Last week, Governor Chris Gregoire indicated that she plans to veto a medical cannabis bill that has the support of doctors, patients, city governments, and the legislature. The bill had been carefully written and amended to ensure that Washington would have the soundest medical cannabis regulations in the country, protecting patients, providing clarity for law enforcement, and allowing cities to enact smart zoning regulations to keep dispensaries from being located near schools. Instead, the governor appears to be misinterpreting established federal policy in order to veto it, potentially leaving Washington with its existing mess of unregulated dispensaries and inviting more conflicts between law enforcement and the communities they’re tasked to protect.
“This development makes it all the more clear that Initiative 1149 is the solution,” says attorney and NORML board member Jeffrey Steinborn. “If the state of Washington, by initiative, repeals all criminal penalties for adult involvement in cannabis, and instructs the legislature to pass some reasonable regulations, the Feds are left with but two choices: first, they can defer to the will of the people of Washington and allow the state to regulate it. Second, they can invalidate any regulations that the state passes, leaving cannabis totally unregulated. That’s how the prohibition of alcohol was abolished. It’s the best way to eliminate the prohibition against responsible adult use of cannabis. This is the way real reform happens.”
Sensible Washington is planning a series of events around the state this Wednesday, April 20, to promote I-1149 and gather signatures. This ballot initiative would remove all civil and criminal penalties for the adult possession, use, manufacture or delivery of cannabis, and it would instruct the legislature to enact appropriate regulations for those activities. The passage of this bill would reduce criminal activity, provide a much-needed boost to the state economy, allow for both cannabis and hemp to be grown in environmentally-sound ways, and establish enforceable age restrictions that can finally prevent sales to minors.
In Seattle, there will be a press conference at the north end of Westlake Park at 1:00 p.m. where attorneys, activists, and other volunteers will speak on behalf of Initiative 1149 and answer questions. This will be followed by a rally at 2:00 p.m.
In other areas of the state, volunteers will be holding rallies and gathering signatures. For more regional specific information, please contact the following individuals:
Seattle — Rally at Westlake Park
Ryan Blackhawke — firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Clare Kersten — Kitsap@sensiblewashington.org
Tacoma — Signature gathering across the city
Justin Prince — Pierce@sensiblewashington.org
Spokane — Events downtown near the library
Dave Bilsland — email@example.com
Olympia — Signature gathering across the city
Rose Eilts — SensibleThurstonCounty@gmail.com
Yakima — Signature gathering across the city