Marijuana Legalization Initiative Launched In Washington State

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director June 22, 2011

    A mainstream coalition in Washington State has emerged in an attempt to pass a binding voter initiative to legalize the responsible adult use of cannabis, raise needed taxes and create alternative legal controls to the clearly failed policies of 74 years of Cannabis Prohibition.

    It would set limits on how much cannabis people can have: an ounce of dried bud, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused foods in solid form, and 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquids, or all three, Holcomb said. Limits are necessary to help ensure that people don’t buy large amounts for resale in other states, she said.

    The Seattle Times breaks the news below and highlights some of the proposed initiative’s early and key supporters–including the former US Attorney, the current Seattle prosecutor and NORML Advisory board member Rick Steves.

    NORML Advisory Board Member and Best-Selling Travel Author Rick Steves Addresses Hempfest's 100,000 @ 4:20

    The 20th annual Seattle Hempfest will have two important reform projects for the hundreds of thousands to truly rally around this year: a state legalization initiative (the ACLU’s or Sensible Washington’s) and the first ever federal legalization bill expected to be introduced at any moment here in the decidedly less hip and green Washington, D.C.

    Will 2012 be the year of mass marijuana legalization initiatives in America? It appears that way now with Washington, California and Colorado on track for such; Oregon, Massachusetts and Ohio may follow suit.

    A coalition that includes former U.S. Attorney John McKay, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and travel guide Rick Steves is launching an initiative that would legalize marijuana in Washington state.

    The group, led by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, decided to push the initiative this spring after Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed most of a medical-marijuana bill that had passed the state Legislature.

    “We did some more public-opinion research, looked at the numbers and said, ‘Yeah, this is the time,’ ” said Alison Holcomb, campaign manager for the initiative and drug-policy director of the ACLU of Washington.

    The initiative would regulate the recreational use of marijuana in a way similar to how the state regulates alcohol..

    It would legalize marijuana for people older than 21, authorize the state Liquor Control Board to regulate and tax marijuana for sale in “stand-alone stores” and extend drunken-driving laws to marijuana, with blood tests to determine how much of the substance’s active ingredient is present in a driver’s blood.

    Taxing sales would bring the state $215 million a year, conservatively estimated, Holmes said.

    McKay, who spent five years enforcing federal drug laws as the U.S. attorney in Seattle before he was fired by the Bush administration in early 2007, said he hopes the initiative will help “shame Congress” into ending pot prohibition.

    He said laws criminalizing marijuana are wrongheaded because they create an enormous black market exploited by international cartels and crime rings.

    “That’s what drives my concern: The black market fuels the cartels, and that’s what allows them to buy the guns they use to kill people,” McKay said. “A lot of Americans smoke pot, and they’re willing to pay for it. I think prohibition is a dumb policy, and there are a lot of line federal prosecutors who share the view that the policy is suspect.”

    Supporters would have until the end of this year to gather more than 240,000 signatures to get the initiative before the Legislature. Lawmakers could approve or allow it to go to the ballot next year.

    Read the rest of the article here.

    59 responses to “Marijuana Legalization Initiative Launched In Washington State”

    1. The American Genesist says:

      I am a “Proud American” – and – in spite of all its mistakes and blunders – I have been so for 73 years. But – because of our present tyrants in government – who have a cynical disregard for We the People – “my pride has turned to endless shame.” With the greatest possible concern – I deplore the contempt of government to impose its will [over] the will of We the People – without the slightest how do you do. But – as I think about it – I realize that – “Those throwing their weight around” are nothing more than one of us who – for one reason or another – have become an arrogant bully [Power corrupts].

      Do I forsake “my country” for their transgressions? No! What do I do? I simply take their toys away, send them to their room, and ground them for life. Am I unreasonable?

    2. Jay says:

      I love the idea, though one line in the article had me rolling in fits of laughter… “…said he hopes the initiative will help “shame Congress” into ending pot prohibition.” hehe shame congress… as if congress had any shame ROFLMAO

    3. DAMAN says:

      this is wonderful news! finally people are starting to realize the truth!

    4. Kambo says:

      Hmmmm, seem to remember this before, like California ?

      [Editor’s note: Indeed…there will be cannabis legalization initiatives on state ballots for a number of years to come…with 2012 being the first election cycle where more than one legalization initiative will be in play.]

    5. I would like to know where to sign, because I’m willing to give my signiture RIGHT NOW to reform government policies to legalize the use of Marijuana for Medical, Industrial And Responsible Recreational Adult use.

    6. Coinspinner says:

      OK ACLU, get this done and all is forgiven regarding your horrible treachery over I-1068. We could have legalized this stuff two years ago. LAST CHANCE, ACLU.

      [Editor’s note: Blaming ‘ACLU treachery’ over Sensible Washington’s inability to raise the needed money and collect the number of signatures necessary to place the measure on the ballot is silly and counter-productive…]

    7. jerrod says:

      This is great. Washington, California, Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Ohio!? There will be a victory somewhere in 2012.

    8. Mooky says:


      Go Washington, start the charge! :):).

    9. […] NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform Share and Enjoy: […]

    10. joad says:

      We are rethinking were to have the party when we win the lottery. It was going to be Amsterdam. But that’s out now. Maybe it will be Seattle.