Nelson, Fitzgibbon Endorse Marijuana Initiative; Plus, Take Our Poll
Marijuana-only stores would be licensed to sell limited quantities of marijuana to people over 21 under the terms of Initiative 502, which has been endorsed by two 34 District state legislators.
State Sen. Sharon Nelson and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon have backed the initiative, slated for the November ballot. Backers of the initiative had collected enough signatures to send the measure to the Legislature, but when lawmakers adjourned without action, it was automatically added to the November ballot.
Initiative 502 decriminalizes adult possession of an ounce of useable marijuana or 16 ounces of marijuana-infused solid products such as cookies, or up to 72 ounces of liquid marijuana-infused products such as teas or lotions). Adults over 21 would no longer be subject to arrest or prosecution for possession of these amounts of marijuana, whether they were using them for non-medical or medical purposes.
However, even if the measure passes, marijuana would still be classified as a “schedule I controlled substance” under federal law and users or sellers could be arrested and prosecuted.
But state legislators say the measure is needed to combat violent crime.
“A tightly-regulated system for marijuana will allow our police and prosecutors to focus on more important public safety priorities,” said Rep. Luis Moscoso, D-1st, the vice-chair of the House General Government Appropriations and Oversight Committee.
Under I-502, Washington growers and processors would be licensed to provide marijuana to the stores. Advertising would be restricted, and a new driving under the influence threshold for THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, would be similar to the .08 threshold for alcohol to keep impaired drivers off the streets.
The measure provides that 80 percent of a new marijuana excise tax would go to health care, prevention, research, and education and the balance of the excise tax, and all retail sales tax, would go to the state general fund and local budgets. Preliminary fiscal analyses published by the Washington state Office of Financial Management estimate I-502 would generate $560 million in new tax revenue annually, said Alison Holcomb of New Approach Washington, the organization set up to manage the initiative.
“The hundreds of millions of Washington dollars currently flowing to the marijuana black market each year should be redirected to legitimate businesses and taxed to support vital government services,” said Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-36, She and introduced previous legalization bills in the legislature in 2010 and 2011, and co-sponsored I-502 with nine other community leaders including Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and travel writer Rick Steves.
We’re curious to see what our Readers think – how would you vote on Initiative 502? Please vote in our Poll below, and/or leave a Comment: