High Hopes Dashed : Washington Pot Campaign Fizzles

Photo by cameronpujo / Photobucket.

Petition effort falls short:
Pot won’t be on Washington ballot

By Vernell Pratt / The Rag Blog / July 9, 2010

VASHON ISLAND, Washington — High hopes for a petition campaign to legalize marijuana in Washington state fell flat last week when the effort failed to gather enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Leaders of Sensible Washington, the measure’s sponsor, said they fell short of their goal by about 40,000 out of 241,000 signers they needed. They vow to try again next year.

The pot legalization effort suffered from a number of factors. It was only one of dozens of petitions being circulated, and got off to a late start while waiting for the Legislature to act so the initiative would not be needed. And funding was a problem, restricting publicity and organizational development from the beginning.

Still, the initative slowly gained support from local Democratic organizations — and eventually the State Democratic Convention — as well as various prominent elected officials and other individuals and organizations statewide.

But it never developed into anything other than a volunteer effort and there are at least two otherwise progressive organizations getting some of the blame for that. The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington declined to support the effort because it removed criminal penalities without creating an alternative regulatory system. Because state law restricts initiatives to covering one subject, Sensible Washington argued they could not include both issues.

The ACLU was not convinced and their refusal to budge influenced the decision of the Service Employees International Union to curtail its earlier interest in helping financially by hiring people to gather signatures.

Clearly, Sensible Washington will have to martial progressive forces in a more methodical way and get its organizational act better together if it hopes to succeed next time. Until then, for Washingtonians, it’s still an illegal smile.

The Rag Blog

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2 Responses to High Hopes Dashed : Washington Pot Campaign Fizzles

  1. Mariann says:

    Vernell, thanks for the update! Not specifying an alternative regulatory system is, in my opinion,, the best feature of the proposed WA state initiative, and hopefully organizers can come back stronger and better prepared next year.

    While I support medical cannabis initiatives, legal hemp initiatives, and attempts to tax and regulate recreational cannabis, all of these are merely better than the current situation of illegality for Cannabis sativa, the most valuable single plant in history. For food, fuel, medicine, fiber, housing, jobs, the environment, and heck yah for fun, too, we need to END PROHIBITION, freeing people to use cannabis for all of its 1001 known uses and as many more as human ingenuity may devise.

    Cannabis is the peaceful revolution; without it, other measures will eventually be taken.

  2. Richard says:


    None of your suggestions are better than the current system. No one who wants to obtain the herb is denied anywhere in this hemisphere.

    So called “legal” methods to get what we want will be fraught with more arrests, more oppresion, and higher prices as evidenced by the way overpriced “dispensaries.”

    Free Marijuana means you don’t have to pay the man for anything.

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