seattletimes.com The organization Sensible Washington filed an initiative Wednesday that would remove all state criminal and civil penalties for the possession use and sale of marijuana in any quantity. But one of the effort’s organizers, Philip Dawdy, said the group would likely be happy to drop it if the Legislature passes a bill introduced this week that would make pot available in state liquor stores.
Sensible Washington tried to get a similar initiative on the ballot last year, but fell about 50,000 signatures short. That proposal was criticized for not including a state regulatory system overseeing the marijuana industry; advocates insisted that the state’s single-subject rule for initiatives barred them from removing legal penalties and regulating the drug in the same measure.
This time, the initiative includes language directing the Legislature to develop such regulations, including possibly taxing marijuana sales.
On Tuesday, state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle, filed a bill that would allow the sale of marijuana to people 21 and over through state liquor stores. The Liquor Control Board would issue licenses to commercial growers, and revenue from sales taxes and license fees – possibly hundreds of millions of dollars a year, according to supporters – could help pay for health care and substance-abuse treatment.