Reader Poll: Would You Vote For Washington’s I-502?
Joe | Aug 27, 2012 | Comments 15
The ballot measure I-502 set to be voted on this fall in Washington has aroused an incredible level of discord and controversy within the cannabis community. Two distinct camps have grown up around each side of the issue, and we want to take an opportunity to present both sides and gauge where the cannabis community as a whole stands on I-502.
In the end the cannabis users in Washington will be the only ones affected by I-502′s passage or failure, but the outcome will have reverberations throughout the marijuana law reform world. We urge each reader to research the initiative for themselves and participate in the poll below, even if you don’t live in Washington. If you did live there, or had the same initiative in your state, how would you vote?
Note: We do not present the views of those who are against marijuana legalization in general here; we at The 420 Times advocate for the full and complete legalization of marijuana for adults. The split we refer to on I-502 is among those who do favor legalization as a general policy.
The organization New Approach Washington is backing I-502. From their website:
This law legalizes the possession of marijuana for adults age 21 and older. The only marijuana that would be legal to sell in this state would be grown by specially-licensed Washington farmers and sold in standalone, marijuana-only stores operated by private Washington businesses licensed and regulated by the state. There would be a 25% sales tax, with 40% of the new revenues going to the state general fund and local budgets, and the remainder dedicated to substance-abuse prevention, research, education and health care. Advertising would be restricted. A new marijuana DUI standard that operates like the alcohol DUI standard would be established.
“From the national perspective, we are at the tipping point for marijuana legalization in this country,” Keith Stroup told The 420 Times. Keith is one of the founders of NORML and currently the legal counsel for the organization. “We now enjoy, for the first time, the support of a majority of the population nationwide for full legalization.
“But as everyone here knows, the biggest obstacle we face today is the adamant and total opposition of the federal government, including the vast majority of the Congress. And so long as that opposition remains, moving forward will be difficult and complicated. What is needed is something major that will force the federal government to finally take a serious look at legalization.
“I know of no other possible scenario that would have a significant impact on federal policies than the reality of having to deal with one or more states that simply ignore the federal government and move forward to fully legalize marijuana. The good people in the state of Washington, like those in Colorado and Oregon, have the opportunity this November to send a seismic shockwave that will be heard loud and clear in your nation’s capital. If, as a few states did at the end of alcohol prohibition, Washington state simply says ‘No more! We will no longer spend our state resources arresting responsible marijuana smokers,’ the feds will have little choice but to finally address this topic in a serious manner. And frankly, I doubt that anything less than this will cause the feds to rethink their policies for at least another five or ten years.
“We all acknowledge that I-502 is not perfect, but few laws are, and all laws are subject to being improved down the road. In particular, the 5 nanogram DUID provisions should have been made a rebuttable presumption, not per se, as per se provisions always have the potential for penalizing drivers who in fact are not impaired. But that provision should not be allowed to overshadow the importance of adopting full legalization in Washington. I hope the voters in Washington will see that nothing going on in the entire legalization movement has the potential to move legalization forward nationwide like the adoption of legalization initiatives in a few states. It will literally be the beginning of the end for prohibition.
“With the benefit of hindsight, I think most of us would agree that the passage of Prop. 215 in CA in 1996 was the single most important development in the pro-legalization movement in the last 30 years – at least since the Marijuana Commission report in 1972 and the 11 states that decriminalized minor marijuana offenses during the 1970s.
“I-502, and the legalization initiatives in Oregon and Colorado, offer the opportunity to finally end marijuana prohibition, once and for all. This initiative, if it passes, will forever be seen as the defiant step that led to the end of marijuana prohibition. Washington currently arrests around 10.000 people annually for marijuana offenses. If you miss this opportunity to legalize marijuana, it will be at least four years, if not longer, before another serious effort can be mounted, and that means another 40,000 citizens in your state will be busted on marijuana charges.
“Please support I-502 and lead the way to full legalization in America.”
No on I-502
Marijuana law reform advocates against I-502 discuss their problems with the measure on their website:
Initiative 502 mandates a provision that makes it illegal to drive with 5 ng/ml of active THC in your bloodstream, regardless of impairment. This level is NOT supported by science. Not only would it subject innocent individuals to highly-invasive blood testing and unnecessary confinement, but given that many cannabis consumers will fail this test hours and in some instances days after last consumption, it also subjects them to the very real potential of an unwarranted criminal conviction that will haunt them for life. This limit is even more ridiculous when you consider that the initiative refuses to include rebuttable presumption, meaning that if you’re above their designated limit: you’re void of your constitutional right to a fair trial, and are refused a defense in court against your impairment (encouraging states to adopt per se DUID limits is one of our Drug Czar’s top national policies).
Even worse: the zero tolerance clause for those under age 21 (refusing to acknowledge that you can legally possess medical cannabis in our state under the age of 21). Drivers in this age bracket will be guilty of a DUID with even the smallest amount of cannabis in their system, meaning that a failed test and an innocent-DUID could take place a week or further after last consumption.
Beyond this, Initiative 502 is simply a faulty and dangerous piece of law (passing a joint to a friend would still be a felony for recreational consumers, for example), and will bring about complacency in the mainstream voter by fooling them into thinking they’ve already voted for “legalization”, pushing off the potential of meaningful reform for years or decades. Legalization can be done better, and without an arbitrary, unscientific and unnecessary per se limit. Vote NO on I-502!
“I-502 would set a horrible precedent for future states that legalize,” Steve Elliot, editor of Toke of The Town, told The 420 Times, “with its unscientific and arbitrary marijuana DUI cutoff point of 5 ng/ml active THC. A number of scientific studies have conclusively shown that 5 ng/ml is not related to significant impairment in experienced cannabis users, and when we confront ignorance in the general public and marijuana impairment, we do not legislate it; we educate it. Most medical marijuana patients wake up, unimpaired in the morning, with more than 5 ng/ml.
“Additionally, 502 would leave in place prohibitions on home growing, and simply passing a joint to your friends would be “felony distribution.” A ‘zero tolerance’ policy would be instituted for those 18-21, so young people could be saddled for a lifetime with a DUI record simply for sitting across the room from someone who smoked a joint — or they could be convicted days or even weeks later for trace amounts in their bloodstream. This is not legalization.”
Check out both websites and decide for yourself.
For further information and opinions on I-502, here is video from a debate held on the measure at this year’s Seattle Hempfest.
How Would You Vote on Washington's I-502?
- Yes (77%, 50 Votes)
- No (15%, 10 Votes)
- Undecided (leave a comment) (8%, 5 Votes)
Total Voters: 65