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November 6, 2011

Add Washington to states with serious marijuana legalization efforts afoot

I have long assumed that California and Colorado would be the two states to watch very closely in 2012 for efforts to legalize marijuana via citizen initiative or some other means.  This article from the Seattle Times, headlined "Pro-pot campaign gets big names, deep pockets," suggests that another western state also has a serious chance to end pot prohibition.  Here is how the piece starts:

Marijuana legalization in Washington has been an activist's pipe dream for decades, but a new campaign with deep pockets and prominent supporters is poised to force the state Legislature to vote on the issue or send it to the 2012 presidential ballot.

The group, New Approach Washington, is the strongest mainstream campaign to date. Since former federal prosecutor John McKay backed the campaign this summer, supporters with impressive résumés emerged, from wealthy investment analysts and businessmen to white-shoe attorneys and, this week, philanthropist Harriet Bullitt.

But absent from the list are some longtime advocates of legalization. In fact, a growing group of activists is pledging to campaign against New Approach's Initiative 502 if it makes it to the ballot. I-502 would legalize possession of one ounce of marijuana and heavily tax a state-licensed production and distribution chain, from grower to newly created retail pot stores. It would generate an estimated $215 million a year, more than half of it dedicated to law enforcement and treatment.

In a bid to sway skeptical voters, I-502 would continue to ban pot possession for people under the age of 21 and set a new standard for driving while stoned, based on blood tests to detect recently consumed THC. Questions about the science behind that test, as well as the mechanics of the state regulation, drove Vivian McPeak, co-founder of Hempfest, to oppose I-502. "I cannot, in good conscience, support New Approach Washington," he said this week.

Alison Holcomb, campaign director of New Approach, acknowledged the infighting, but said compromise is necessary to woo undecided voters toward a huge shift in social policy. "When you're making big changes, you need to take incremental steps," she said.

Despite headwind from activists, New Approach appears to be succeeding where previous legalization campaigns failed. With more than $1 million in donations, the campaign hired fleets of paid signature-gatherers. Holcomb said the campaign is confident they'll get the required 241,000 signatures and give voters a choice on legalization for the first time.

November 6, 2011 at 11:58 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I feel this would be a step in the right direction toward making Pot work to help our damaged economies. Marijuana is the safest drug with actual benefits for the user as opposed to alcohol which is dangerous, causes addiction, birth defects, and affects literally every organ in the body. Groups are organizing all over the country to speak their minds on reforming pot laws. I drew up a very cool poster for the cause which you can check out on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/01/vote-teapot-2011.html Drop in and let me know what you think!

Posted by: Brandt | Nov 8, 2011 2:56:34 PM

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