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The Top Ten “No On I-502″ Scares That Didn’t Come True

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washington state marijuana legalization i502I have been going over some of my older writing when I found a stash of articles debunking the scare tactics of the No on I-502 campaign in Washington State.  Recall that most of these opponents were pot smokers themselves and many of them beneficiaries of the medical marijuana status quo who were using dispensary proceeds to campaign against legalization.  Here are ten of the fearmongering predictions that failed to materialize:

1) You’d better hope some redneck cop with an attitude about stoners doesn’t pull you over on the way home.  Or worse yet, sit there waiting to shoot hippie fish in a barrel as they leave Hempfest, just pulling ’em over as they leave…

As a matter of fact, King County Sheriffs did mount an enhanced DUI patrol for the Seattle Hempfest, beginning on August 16 and running through September 2.  They ended up stopping and arresting 292 people for drug and alcohol DUI.  The prior year over the same time period, before I-502 passed with its 5ng/mL DUID law, cops nabbed 374 people.  Looks like the hippie fish are swimming quite well or the sheriffs are lousy shots.

2) …as far as carrying around an ounce of marijuana and not being concerned with arrest? Unless you bought that ounce at a state-licensed store, you’d still get busted.

Nobody in the State of Washington has been arrested for holding less than an ounce of marijuana, even though no state-licensed stores exist yet.

3) If you took Emery at his word and happily passed what you believed to be that gloriously legal joint to your buddy — after all, Marc Emery said it was OK! — then you’d get your ass busted for “distribution.”

As far as I am aware, nobody in Washington has been busted for joint-passing distribution.  I saw thousands of such distribution crimes happening in the open in full view of police at Hempfest.  It may have happened somewhere, but that distribution law existed before I-502.

4) If that bag in your pocket contained a crumb over 40 grams — not that unusual for some of us — you could be busted for felony possession.

Since 40 grams was a felony before I-502, that seems irrelevant.  What isn’t irrelevant is that I-502 forced cops to re-train their drug dogs to not alert for marijuana, since it is no longer contraband, which has doubtlessly benefited people holding over 40 grams.

5) God help you if you accidentally pass the joint to a minor, by the way…

It seems strange that proponents of what they call “true legalization” were defending giving joints to kids; however this, too, seems not to have materialized in any manner greater than it existed before I-502.  I’m sure there were plenty of intermingling 14-to-25-year-olds at Hempfest, but I didn’t see any arrests.

6) It would take away the rights of individuals to cultivate their own medicine.

Every patient who was cultivating marijuana as medicine before I-502 is still doing so after.  Recreational consumers can’t grow their own, but they couldn’t before I-502, either.

7) The Feds have made it clear they will intervene if states enact legalization measures. Do we really need more raids and negative attention for cannabis?

The Feds have just recently made it clear that they will not interfere in state legalization measures and it appears that non-interference may carry over to medical marijuana.  The Feds are working to undercut mandatory minimum sentencing and anti-drug banking regulations to help the marijuana industry.  They only made these moves because of states enacting legalization measures.

8) [I-502] Will increase the cost of medicine by 50 percent to 75 percent.

Washington State still has some of the lowest prices for an ounce of quality marijuana in the United States.  Estimates of the recreational costs of marijuana exceeding $17 per gram once pot shops in 2014 got a lot of media coverage, but few people actually read the report.  That $17 per gram estimate is based on both the processor and the retailer taking a 100 percent (double your money) mark-up.  When BOTEC, the firm making the estimates, used the average 31 percent markup found in a liquor store, they came up with an estimated $7.46 per gram, putting the price of an ounce around $210 – about what it costs on the recreational black market in Washington now.

9) I-502 maintains current criminal penalties for adults under 21 while imposing a new zero tolerance DUI law.

Right, people under 21 couldn’t use marijuana before I-502.  As for the zero tolerance DUI law under 21, how did all those under-21 tokers manage to drive away from Seattle Hempfest and escape the enhanced DUI patrols, since 82 fewer people were arrested for DUI as we mentioned in point #1?

10) When people understand how states cannot create laws that conflict with federal laws, they will realize that all Washington state will be left with if I-502 passes is the DUIC and the right to possess 1 ounce of Cannabis, 16 ounces of food products or 72 ounces of infused liquids.

“Gosh, is that all?” said recreational cannabis users in 48 other states.  Just the legal right to possess cannabis and a per se DUID statute better than eleven other states’?  As the feds, faced with a state conflict to federal laws, are helping to enable those laws to function?  As fewer people are being arrested for DUID?  And as we await next year’s FBI Uniform Crime report to learn how so many fewer Washingtonians got arrested for marijuana possession?  Gee, what a terrible outcome we’ve all suffered from not heeding the predictions of No on I-502.

Source: National Cannabis Coalitionmake a donation

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About Author

Executive Director: Russ Belville has been active in Oregon marijuana reform since 2005, when he was elected second-in-command of the state affiliate, Oregon NORML. After four years with Oregon NORML, Russ was hired by National NORML in 2009, working as Outreach Coordinator and hosting the NORML Daily Audio Stash podcast until 2012. Since then, Russ launched the 420RADIO marijuana legalization network and is the host of The Russ Belville Show, a live daily marijuana news talk radio program. Russ is also a prolific writer, with over 300 articles posted online and in print in HIGH TIMES, Huffington Post, Alternet, The Weed Blog, Marijuana Politics, and more.

  • NORML is a joke

    Seems ridiculous to celebrate the success of an initiative that hasn’t been implemented yet… This article did give me a chuckle though. Especially now that RCW 69.51A is being gutted with I-502 “reconciliation” being the main argument in favor of doing so. Wait, this *isn’t* funny anymore.

  • Anyone consider what happened during the first federal prohibition of cannabis in the USA?
    They disguised it as a “tax and regulate” motive (Marihuana Tax Act 1937). They didn’t arrest anyone for several years based on the new laws. But then when they did, they started arresting a lot of people.

    Here are the REAL facts about I-502; http://xcannabis.com/cannabis-news/news-and-archives-about-washingtons-initiative-502/

  • me

    this is awesome

  • Donivian DeMar

    I would also like to point out that before I 502 the DUI limit for ng/ml was 0 now at least it is 5 – not that it makes any sense or is based in real world study.

  • planetvance

    You’re jumping the gun a bit. Number six above is about to come true. https://lcb.app.box.com/draft-recommendations

  • GreenCrossStaff

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  • painkills2

    And if they could get it to actually taste and smell like peanut butter cups, I would think I was in heaven (and I probably would be). My preferential ratio would be something like 80% THC and 20% CBDs. Sure wish the local dispensaries I frequent tested for potency (or anything else). It would be immensely helpful to have that information for my medicine. Cheers!

  • Neal Feldman

    Oh I am far from a saint. I do good deeds. I’ve done some very not-so-nice things. Not sure I make a ‘habit’ of either…

    I have noticed an increase in the number of high CBD strains… some say very low THC (I figure less than 5%) while others say average THC (I figure greater than 5 percent to a max of 15%)… it is nice to see. For me the THC does some of the things I benefit from, and CBDs do others, and they tend to augment each other. I doubt I would want a 100% CBD strain or a 100% THC strain.

    It’s kind of like peanut butter cups.

    But I see no reason that with planned breeding and good genetic examples one could not breed a strain that was over 40% THC and over 40% CBD. THAT would be a strain I would like to try!

  • painkills2

    In regards to cannabis producing effects on different sides of the spectrum, I just read an old article about this very thing. You may already know this, but as they built up the THC levels in cannabis, the CBD levels were decreased in the process. (I’m speaking generally, of course.) And it is the CBDs that work alongside the THC to balance the effects so that paranoia, etc. is minimized… I get the feeling that the plant should be bred with high levels of both THC and CBDs to get the best effect (and to decrease negative mental effects). I wonder if it is even possible to have high levels of both sides of the coin, as it were, and if growers just didn’t think the other CBDs were important. Growers have been focused only on the THC in the past, but maybe this is changing. If scientists are able to tell growers the specific effects of important CBDs, then medicine can even be tailored for certain conditions. The scientific research could not advance fast enough for me… As far as bad habits are concerned, I don’t think we need to get all lawyerly and drill down on definitions for a rhetorical question. I was just checkin’ to see if you are human or saint. Anyway, I don’t expect you to confess your secrets to me :-)

  • Neal Feldman

    No problem, glad to provide info.

    Bible actually has the deity saying to use cannabis:

    Genesis 1:29.

    As for bad habits that depends on your definition of ‘bad’ and of ‘habits’.

  • Sean Patrick

    Are you suggesting that hippies making money under cannabis prohibition, a true crime against humanity, is a good thing? Cui bono?

  • painkills2

    I believe pain can shield you from some addictions, which is good, but you get a high tolerance level as a result, which is bad. I’ve never come across a person who has no addictions. Are bad habits counted as a type of addiction and, if so, tell me you at least have some bad habits… As for the negative side of cannabis, I admit that I have not seen a lot of it, but I have seen some. Although I have never felt paranoia when smoking pot, other people have and it can become quite concerning. (To pot smokers it seems to be funny when users get paranoid, like when drinkers get drunk.) And yet on the positive side, it helps people fight addictions to hard drugs. It seems like it is producing effects on different sides of a spectrum. I guess I will leave it to the scientists to figure out…. I think I’m still going to disagree with you about “vices,” but when it comes to cannabis, the good so overwhelmingly overshadows the bad that legalization is a given… And god said, let there be light, and let there be people to enjoy the light, but when the light gets too bright, let there be cannabis. And Yul Brenner said, so let it be written, so let it be done. :) Great talk, by the way, thanks!

  • Lil Red

    This is such fascist fucking nazi propaganda. The ONLY fucking reason they made this bill was so Bill Gates and other rich faggots will make money off of something Hippies have been doing for decades. They took away one of the last things we still had. And don’t let that lies above fool you, they’re busting more people now than they EVER did before pot got “legalized”. So it’s legal to have up to an ounce, but it’s not legal to grow it or sell it? Oh, that’s right, I just pulled this ounce of bud out of my ass.

  • Neal Feldman

    Agreed we seemed to be at cross purposes.

    I understand what you are talking about… those who are psychologically addicted. My point is with cannabis there are only the psychologically addicted as cannabis lacks the basic chemical makeup to be physically addictive.

    So my point is that if someone is psychologically addicted it has nothing to do with the subject of their addiction; it is all on them/

    With legalization a tiny portion of the money spent currently on cannabis/hemp prohibition can go towards treatment for such psychological addiction to cannabis, without them (as now) having to admit to criminal activity… like those who seek help with the actually addictive substances such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, et al.

    But my issue is when this is turned around so as to claim that cannabis is ‘addictive’ and ‘dangerous’ because of this, which is complete BS.

    In my own case I never addict, even to things that are highly addictive. Been on narcotic pain killers by prescription, never had to detox to switch when the docs wanted to try something else… things like methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, etc. Even when I quit a 3.5 pack/day cigarette habit there was no withdrawal. Shrug. But as a student of the sciences I understand addiction even if I never addict. I know the significant differences between physical addiction and psychological addiction. I just dislike seeing cannabis/hemp being maligned as ‘addictive’ when it is not.

    So I am not claiming to be ‘stronger’ than anyone else.

    To those who do get psychologically addicted and who are not ‘strong enough’ to avoid or break such an addiction, there should be treatment available. I would even make it free or at least means tested.

    Falls into the question are a group of couch-locked ‘stoners’ that way because of cannabis, when cannabis is used by millions without that result, or are those who are, naturally, couch-locked ‘stoners’ just predisposed to using cannabis or any number of other substances?

    I say in the case of cannabis most ‘negative outcomes’ falls into the latter case. They would have been (as I have heard them referred to many times) ‘just directionless layabouts’… who will use whatever substances they choose but that is the result they are, consciously or subconsciously, looking for.

    I am more than willing to accept the bad with the good, re: cannabis, but honestly I have yet to see any such ‘bad’. As far as treatment goes I think we are on the same page in that we agree that treatment, hopefully free, will be available as much as it is available for tobacco and alcohol (and other) addicts, be they physically addictive or psychologically addictive.

    We just should avoid saying things like ‘cannabis is addictive’ when the science shows it is clearly not.

    And I am all for fully researching cannabis once legal… who knows what else we may learn about it!?

  • painkills2

    Yeah, it seems like we got off the subject. Or I did. You’re talking about addiction and that cannabis is not addictive. I’m saying that just about anything can be addictive. You’re talking about chemical addiction and I’m talking about addiction in general. Since addiction has been criminalized, I’m not sure we have a complete understanding of it. Or if we ever will. But where we may differ, I think, is in the belief that IF a person is just strong enough, they can overcome addiction. I don’t believe that is the case for everyone who suffers from addiction. And just like you have cannabis lovers who only get positive benefits, I think there will be some people on the other end of the spectrum who only get negative effects. I’m not saying this is a large number of people. Just that they probably exist and that should be recognized. I don’t think cannabis should be limited in any way, just that we should have a complete bucket of knowledge so people can make their own choices. And if we don’t acknowledge the bad with the good, we will be just like the government’s propaganda machine.

  • zaralyn

    292 is still a LOT!

  • Neal Feldman

    Well, individual freedom should be protected, not violated, by laws. Personal freedom should be as non-impacted by laws as possible, with public safety being an issue that might justify such curtailment, but only to the minimum level needed to accomplish the public safety goals.

  • Neal Feldman

    I am not sure I understand what you mean by “Can’t we agree that neither of us has enough of an understanding of the
    brain to categorically say that the strength of personal responsibility
    can always trump the chemical reactions in our brains?”

    All I am talking about is that cannabis is not physically addictive – it lacks the basic chemical makeup to be addictive. In cases of psychological addiction that is on the addict, not their chosen obsession.

    So not sure where you are going with ‘strength of personality’ trumping ‘chemical reactions in our brains’.

    Can you elaborate in context?

  • painkills2

    See, I don’t mind some rules and regulations. That’s what good science is based on. And I don’t think laws should be based primarily on what’s best for individual freedom.

  • painkills2

    Thanks for the advice on paragraph spaces, but it appears I don’t have the capability to utilize this transcendent technological advance. Symbols will have to do. Well, shit. It looks like my keyboard doesn’t have a paragraph symbol. (I suppose I should join Twitter so I can learn to communicate my thoughts in 140 characters or less…)
    As I was reading your post, I began to compare sugar to cannabis. And, in that way, I can see your side of the argument. In fact, I started chuckling as you began to win me over… almost. Even with my extensive reading on how pain signals zoom around in our bodies, I still have a limited understanding of what’s going on in the brain. Even though I watched every program in the Charlie Rose Brain Series, there was a lot that went over my head. Taking all that into account… Can’t we agree that neither of us has enough of an understanding of the brain to categorically say that the strength of personal responsibility can always trump the chemical reactions in our brains? If we just try hard enough. Isn’t that what your side of the argument is about?

  • Neal Feldman

    As for spaces hitting the Enter key twice at the end of each paragraph usually works for me. In cases where hitting Enter closes the post try Shift-Enter instead.

    There being sex addicts does not mean that sex is addictive – it means the sex addict has an addictive personality disorder.

    Because there are slackers who use cannabis does not mean all who use cannabis are slackers, and just because some with addictive personality disorders take cannabis use to unhelpful extremes does not mean cannabis caused this. It is caused by the addictive personality disorder.

    It is DSM-IV that describes the disorder of physiological addiction, not I.

    No pretending required. Cannabis is clearly safer than water. Drink too much water and you can die. People have done so. The LD-50 for cannabis is about 750,000 0.9 gram joints of high quality bud consumed by a single person in under 15 minutes. Not a very likely occurrence.

    As to the percentage that have issues with cannabis, they need to care for that themselves or seek help. They do not get to deny the rest of the population just because they should not partake. Just like because some are allergic to peanuts this does not mean peanuts should be illegal (so they aren’t).

  • Neal Feldman

    Will be doing my best!