Legalize Pot? : Going for the Ballot in Washington

Crowd at last year’s Seattle Hempfest, the world’s largest marijuana event. Photo by NORML.

Sensible Washington heads petition drive:
Washington state initative to legalize pot

By Vernell Pratt / The Rag Blog / April 27, 2010

[California may not be the only place where legalization of marijuana is on the ballot this November. Our Vernell Pratt reports on a similar initiative in the state of Washington.]

VASHON ISLAND, Washington — Washington state residents could be growing and smoking marijuana legally by this time next year if a statewide initiative wins approval in November.

On the heels of a legislative session that saw two legalization bills die in committee, an organization called Sensible Washington filed Initiative I-1068 in January. It removes state civil and criminal penalties for the cultivation, possession, sale, transportation, or use of marijuana by persons 18 years or older.

Sensible Washington wants the measure on the November general election ballot, when voter turnout is highest.

First, they have to get it on the ballot, which involves gathering 320,000 signatures by the end of June. The effort has to be statewide because if all the signatures are gathered on the “left” coast of the state, voters in Eastern Washington will tend to oppose it by nature.

However, with discussions about the potential economic impact on this largely agricultural portion of the state, it’s possible the signature gatherers could still make an impression with the good citizens who are not themselves stoners.

And if you throw in the fact that this state spends at least $105 million a year to arrest, prosecute, and imprison 12,000 people for marijuana offenses only, you have the attention of the budget conscious throughout the state.

To learn more or to download the petition, go to sensiblewashington.org

The Rag Blog

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1 Response to Legalize Pot? : Going for the Ballot in Washington

  1. Vernell — wow, thanks for reporting on this! That sounds like a LOT of signatures and a short time to gather them, but you’re right, the potential economic impact of legalization is significant.

    In 2004 in Alaska, where cannabis is already possessed and grown by adults but commerce is still illegal, an economic study detailed notonly great savings but potentially great new income from treating cannabis the same as the state now treats alcohol and tobacco (sold only in state-operated stores and only to adults). That report is available at my informational website.

    In addition to the Sensible Washington initiative and the California proposal to tax and regulate cannabis, several other states are seeking changes in their Prohibition-era laws, including providing for medical use of cannabis and allowing commercial agriculture in hemp. Links to many of these campaigns are also available at Cannabis Resource.

    I hope you’ll keep us informed on the progress of this initiative as it seeks to gather the required signatures to obtain ballot status in Washington!

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