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Will I-502 Truly Legalize Marijuana In Washington State?


Sensible WashingtonI-502 Is The Most Debated Marijuana Initiative In The 2012 Election Cycle

By Douglas Hiatt, Co-founder of Sensible Washington

Washington voters are being told a big lie. New Approach Washington, the campaign behind Initiative 502, is advertising that it will “legalize” marijuana. It would not.

It creates a very narrow exception that defines the possession of one ounce by adults over 21, and the state’s rules for production, as “not a violation” of the law.

I-502 leaves every single law now making marijuana illegal on the books. Walk out of the state-sanctioned, licensed and taxed store and hand the marijuana to your significant other and it is a delivery of marijuana. This is not comprehensive, real reform.

What I-502 does change is our DUI law. Our current DUI laws are working just fine and result in conviction rates of over 90 percent. This initiative sets unneeded, unasked for and unscientific levels for impairment for adults (5 nanograms, rejected three times by the Colorado Legislature), while establishing a zero-tolerance provision for all drivers 16 to 21.

It also takes away your ability to defend yourself. If you meet the levels, you are guilty. No explaining that you are a patient, no arguing about the levels or tolerance, nothing. For drivers age 16 to 21, any detectable amount of marijuana will result in a DUI conviction and disastrous effects on their parents’ insurance.

This is not based on impairment; it is simply a new penalty for marijuana for kids. But it is a very impactful one for parents with teenage drivers. What parent wants to face the requirements for insurance and the expense of a DUI, all because of some youthful experimentation?

This initiative is also being sold as “pitting the citizens of Washington state against the federal government” and “carefully drafted” to withstand federal preemption. Not true. I-502 essentially wastes your vote to force federal change and will likely result in the federal courts construing this initiative to change the law to one ounce decriminalized, with nowhere legal to buy it and leaving the terrible changes to our DUI laws.

As U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan has stated, she knows of no attorney who thinks that this will survive federal preemption analyses. There are ways to avoid this drafting problem. See sensiblewashington.org for real cannabis reform.

Because the federal government will not allow the state to begin regulating and taxing a federally banned substance, these projections are moot. I-502 imposes taxes at three distinct levels and does not allow growers and sellers to be the same entity. This will produce taxes that will make the store-bought marijuana way too expensive to even begin to impact the current market.

I-502 will have absolutely no effect on criminal organizations in Mexico or anywhere else. To actually get the benefit of ending prohibition, as we did with alcohol, you have to actually legalize the substance in question, not play games and pander to fears. I-502 also fails to legalize hemp, which would open a $430 million domestic hemp market currently supplied primarily by China.

With regard to other criminal justice savings, because more than 90 percent of current marijuana possession charges are the result of traffic stops, the 10,000 possession arrests per year can easily be converted into 10,000 (or more) DUI arrests, thereby eliminating any savings in the criminal justice system stemming from reduced prosecutions. The zero-tolerance driving standard for drivers 16 to 21 will eliminate any savings on criminal justice costs and produce much misery for many families.

Just say no to I-520.


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  1. Confused. I got a dui a few months ago for alcohol. Now im being UA tested for a while. If marijuana comes up positive how can that affect me. Its now a legal drug and should have no issues if found in someones system. It doesnt even say on the sheet to stay away from marijuana. It says not to cosume illegal drugs. Does anyone know if I can get in more trouble testing positive for THC or is it ok now that its a legal substance.

  2. 502 passed and I do not fear any DUI check point or even fear getting pulled over .

    It is simple stop driving I stopped driving nearly 15 years ago but i do still travel using my personal convance . That means I do get into my automobile and travel where i need togo because when I travel I am in”pursuit of happyness ” and that is in the constitution of the united states. Also the laws give very good meaning to what a driver is and well to sum it up into a nut shell if you get paid to drive then you need a licence.
    BusDrivers, Cabdriers, TruckDrivers they get paid to drive or oparate or drive exstrodanary machines . Please look up the right to travel vs the right to drive .
    oh before somone says its a state law not a fed law you are totall right i forgot that oh wait no i didn’t . No state my write into law any order that is higher then the law of the land . Law of the land is the Constitution . just sayin

  3. thc isn’t a bad thing, like most substances your body builds up a tolerance to its intoxicating effects over prolonged usage.

  4. So based on your logic noone will grow tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, onions, carrots, strawberries, etc at home because its much easier to buy them at a store.

  5. ACTIVE THC actually CAN stay in your system for days! Inactive metabolites can stay in your system for weeks or even a month. I know people who had their blood tested 10+ hours after last use and tested 2-3 times higher than 5ng.

  6. johndavis0414@gmail.com on

    I think a lot of ppl are missing the big picture here. At some point, marijuana will be commercially available. The other thing you can count on is the government will control it in some way. Not just contol the product and money and laws establishing age, possession amounts and such, but the way its thought of by generations to come. They will fear the product much in the same way a lot of ppl do today about alcohol. And this will be because of the laws and educational programs develped to prevent abuse. They are gaining control by creating fear. Legalization of marijuana is not going to be an instant change. It is a path that is going to be a process. Home production will become a thing of the past shortly after national decriminalization. A lot of ppl used to make booze before. Now because of laws and wide spead information its a rarity because of the fear it created. It just took a few generations. The same will happen with marijuana. I so not live in WA but I so support this measure. I live in OR and voted yes on 80.

  7. I-502 raised over 4 million dollars to shut you people up against legalizing marijuana because the bill isnt exactly what they want. The medical marijuana community is lucky they have the fuckin rights they do! And its because of people like me, that voted to give you your right to medicate yourself. Dont forget that you ungratefull people of the medical community. Stop thinking of just yourself and vote so the rest of us have our god given right to use marijuana. It is just selfish. Who cares about this dui thing! Ive been poled over high before and unless smokes rollin out your windows or your bombed they arnt taking you to the hospital to blood test you. Use eyedrops once in a while, who fuckin cares you pussies. really.

  8. real people for real reform on

    i·de·al·ist   [ahy-dee-uh-list] noun 1. a person who cherishes or pursues high or noble principles, purposes, goals, etc. Synonyms: optimist, perfectionist, reformer, visionary, utopianist.

    i guess you could call me that on this because i-502 does not meet the standards of “legalization” and will open the door for harassment or worse for anybody who uses cannabis more then just on a friday night out with their friends.

    !!! VOTE NO on I-502 !!!

  9. real people for real reform on

    502 equals DUI’s!!! everybody keep in ind this will include your peaceful bike rides not to mention all other means of transportation motor or not…imagine the harassment door being wide open from soap in your eyes to a skunk being ran over in the area and subject to a blood test and a possible life changing moment of being hauled off to jail for failing a drug test from a joint you smoked the night before? you have to consider all of this, at least now the worst is a possible possession charge that will more then likely be just a ticket and you’ll be on your way home but that could all change into going to jail, spending 5,000 plus dollars in fines, plus attorney fees, plus classes, plus possible jail time…DUI’s are a business and they will be working very hard at making their business very profitable.

    !!! VOTE NO on I-502 !!!

  10. The Pragmatic Conspiracy on

    I’d like to address all the incoherent nonsense you’ve written one piece at a time.

    The 5ng limit is active THC only, which falls in parallel with intoxication. If you smoke hash-oil from dawn till dusk every day for 5 years – you might have to wait a little longer than a few hours, but normal users will be under the limit when they no longer feel “high”. The chemical you keeping mentioning the timescale for is THC-COOH, which is only tested for by employers.

    Progressive Insurance?!? Just how poorly informed are you?

    The contributor your referring to is Peter Lewis, not his insurance company. He is a long time supporter of legalizing both medical and recreational cannabis. He is a well known pot-smoker, and he stands to gain precisely nothing from 502’s passage. He supports it because its pragmatic and socially progressive policy with a chance of passage.

    You’ve either been lied to, or you’re a grossly overconfident moron.

  11. The Economic Conspiracy on

    That’s not a source, its a random website aimed at black market prices.

    Also – Colorado is a MODEL (I assume you know how models work) for what effect legitimate production has on price levels.

    The “price of weed” in Colorado is not the relevant statistic – its the TREND IN PRICE LEVELS.

    Colorado long had prices substantively higher than the West coast. Medical cannabis production was legalized – and now prices are lower than the west coast black market – and quality has improved. This downward trend can be attributed to legitimate production. 502 goes much farther in allowing large scale production. This means that prices can be expected to fall even farther than they did on Colorado. 50/oz might be a low figure, but it is INDISPUTABLE that prices will fall while quality improves.

    Its basic economics, and we’ve seen it happen already.

  12. The GS Conspiracy on

    Employers test for metabolized THC, which can stay in your system for weeks.

    502 explicitly states that tests will be for active THC only, which falls in correlation with intoxication. The only people subject to constant “over the limit” blood-THC are those who smoke large quantities of cannabis day in and day out.

    You are attempting to mislead people, and your not doing a very good job.

  13. real people for real reform on

    its not fear mongering if its the truth and the truth is a 5 nanogram DUI limit will jeopardize everyone who drives in the state of washington, this is why Colorado has voted again the 5ng dui limit 3 times in a row!!! And if you’d like to talk about profiteers, all voters should be well aware of the fact that progressive insurance is one the main backers for I-502 due to all of the SR-22’s they will be getting after the police start giving out dui’s to innocent people they cant even scientifically prove are impaired and could be arrested for the partaking of cannabis even days after NOT using any cannabis at all. you cant argue with science and thats the TRUTH!

    JUST SAY NO TO I-502!!!

  14. Do not be fooled, Doctors were used to bring the vast population of what they deemed the scum of society during the rise of Germany. Federal Government say’s pot smokers are drug addicts and criminals. Stop signing your freedoms away.

  15. real people for real reform on

    its called Colorado??? glad you’re familiar with the great state which by the way has voted AGAINST the 5 nanogram DUI limit 3 times in row due to its lack of science and lack fairness to drivers. It only takes one drop of poison to make the drink toxic and I-502 is completely toxic. WAIT FOR REAL REFORM PEOPLE!

    VOTE NO on I-502!!!

  16. real people for real reform on

    haha, that worst comparison yet, apples to oranges…an alcoholic can drink until they pass out wake up eat a good meal and be good to drive in most cases however a normal person chooses to smoke 1 joint after work and will then be vulnerable for a dui days after the fact … 5ng is 3 times lower then the 15ng it takes to currently fail a drug test for work, which people fail days or even weeks after stopping all use of cannabis.

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