Drug Law

Movement Begins to Legalize Marijuana in Washington State

| by NORML

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.

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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.

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 it or allow it to go to the ballot next year.

Read the rest of the article here.