Initiative To Legalize Marijuana Will Go To Voters

Feb 10, 2012

An ini­tia­tive seek­ing to legal­ize and reg­u­late the recre­ational use of mar­i­juana will be decided by vot­ers, Wash­ing­ton state law­mak­ers said Thurs­day. If passed, Ini­tia­tive 502 would make Wash­ing­ton the first state to legal­ize the recre­ational use of mar­i­juana. It would place the state at odds with fed­eral law, which bans mar­i­juana use of all kinds. Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, who chairs the House State Gov­ern­ment & Tribal Affairs Com­mit­tee that was con­sid­er­ing the ini­tia­tive, said the Leg­is­la­ture would not act on it, mean­ing it will instead auto­mat­i­cally appear on the Novem­ber bal­lot. “We will have more oppor­tu­ni­ties on the cam­paign trail this year to dis­cuss this issue,” Hunt said. Because the mea­sure pro­poses new taxes on mar­i­juana pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion, the Leg­is­la­ture would need a two-thirds major­ity to pass it. The ini­tia­tive was cer­ti­fied by the sec­re­tary of state’s office last month after pro-legalization cam­paign­ers turned in more than the 241,153 nec­es­sary valid sig­na­tures. The mea­sure would cre­ate a sys­tem of state-licensed grow­ers, proces­sors and stores, and impose a 25 per­cent excise tax at each stage. Peo­ple ages 21 and older could buy up to an ounce of dried mar­i­juana, one pound of marijuana-infused prod­uct in solid form, such as brown­ies, or 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liq­uids. Speak­ing at a joint House and Sen­ate work ses­sion Thurs­day, back­ers of the mea­sure said it would allow the state to reg­u­late mar­i­juana use, raise tax rev­enues and squeeze the pow­er­ful drug car­tels con­trol­ling the black mar­ket. “Lock­ing peo­ple up and putting hand­cuffs on them is not the way to resolve our society’s issues with regard to mar­i­juana,” said John McKay, a for­mer U.S. attor­ney for Seat­tle who has become an out­spo­ken advo­cate for mar­i­juana legal­iza­tion. Charles Mandigo, the for­mer head of the Seat­tle FBI office, also spoke in favor of the mea­sure. “It is the money, not the drugs, that drive these crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tions and street gangs,” Mandigo said. “Take away the money and you take away the crim­i­nal ele­ment.” McKay and Mandigo con­ceded that get­ting crim­i­nals out of the mar­i­juana busi­ness would take time. Oppo­nents said legal­iza­tion would likely increase mar­i­juana use by teenagers, and they ques­tioned whether crim­i­nal gangs would be seri­ously impacted. “There is a thriv­ing indus­try in place,” said Steve Freng, a fed­eral offi­cial help­ing coör­di­nate Wash­ing­ton state’s drug pre­ven­tion and treat­ment efforts. “It’s silly to think the car­tels will sim­ply pack up and leave the state with their tails between their legs.” Thurston County Sher­iff John Snaza argued that it would be bet­ter to instead pres­sure the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to change marijuana’s des­ig­na­tion from a Sched­ule One to a Sched­ule Two drug, mean­ing it would still be clas­si­fied as hav­ing a high poten­tial for abuse but would also be rec­og­nized as hav­ing legit­i­mate med­ical uses. “If we start with the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal end and move for­ward from there, I think what a great start we’ve already done,” Snaza said. Some med­ical mar­i­juana advo­cates oppose the ini­tia­tive because it would place a limit on motorists’ TCH lev­els – 5 nanograms per mil­li­liter of blood – that they say doesn’t accu­rately mea­sure impair­ment. THC is the active ingre­di­ent of cannabis. Such con­cerns are overblown, said Dr. Kim Thor­burn, Spokane County’s for­mer top pub­lic health offi­cial, who favors the ini­tia­tive. “In order to be stopped for impaired dri­ving you have to show impair­ment,” she said. “This is not a con­cern for med­ical mar­i­juana users and has been kind of a red her­ring that has been raised.” Activists in a hand­ful of other states, includ­ing Cal­i­for­nia, Ore­gon and Mon­tana, are attempt­ing to get the legal­iza­tion of recre­ational mar­i­juana use on the bal­lot, though none has yet secured the nec­es­sary sig­na­tures. Col­orado legal­iza­tion activists were about 2,500 sig­na­tures shy of get­ting an ini­tia­tive on that state’s bal­lot as of last week. Their dead­line is Feb. 15. Wash­ing­ton is among 16 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia that have legal­ized the med­ical use of mar­i­juana. Source: Asso­ci­ated Press (Wire) Author: Jonathan Kamin­sky, The Asso­ci­ated Press Pub­lished: Feb­ru­ary 9, 2012 Copy­right: 2012 The Asso­ci­ated Press

cc91357227ll 600.jpg 150x100 Initiative To Legalize Marijuana Will Go To Voters

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Ini­tia­tive To Legal­ize Mar­i­juana Will Go To Voters

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