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2012: I-502 (Marijuana)

Initiative 502 would regulate the production and distribution of marijuana to adults age 21 and older; the Washington State Liquor Control Board would be the regulatory body. The state Office of Financial Management estimates the measure could raise $560 million a year in taxes.

I-502 is the first marijuana legalization measure to be on a statewide Washington ballot.  Voters in Oregon and Colorado also have marijuana legalization measures on statewide ballots this fall. No state has yet legalized marijuana for recreational use; California voters rejected a similar measure, Proposition 19, in 2010. Oregon voters passed Oregon Ballot Measure 67, the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, in 1998.

The Washington measure has drawn national attention in part due to the high profile supporter, from former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper to former U.S. Attorney John McKay. From the Washington Secretary of State:

Ballot Title
Initiative Measure No. 502 concerns marijuana.

This measure would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over twenty-one; remove state-law criminal and civil penalties for activities that it authorizes; tax marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues.

Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

Ballot Measure Summary
This measure would remove state-law prohibitions against producing, processing, and selling marijuana, subject to licensing and regulation by the liquor control board; allow limited possession of marijuana by persons aged twenty-one and over; and impose 25% excise taxes on wholesale and retail sales of marijuana, earmarking revenue for purposes that include substance-abuse prevention, research, education, and healthcare. Laws prohibiting driving under the influence would be amended to include maximum thresholds for THC blood concentration.

The measure was filed in 2011 as an initiative to the legislature. However, the legislature did not act on the measure, which moved it to the 2012 statewide ballot.

The pros: Our current marijuana laws have failed. It’s time for a new approach.

  • Initiative 502 frees law enforcement resources to focus on violent crime.
  • Treating adult marijuana use as a crime costs Washington State millions in tax dollars and ties up police, courts, and jail space. We should focus our scarce public safety dollars on real public safety threats.
  • Initiative 502 provides billions in new revenue for Washington State
  • Regulating and taxing marijuana will generate over a half-billion dollars annually in new revenue for state and local government
  • New funding will go to health care, research, and drug prevention
  • Initiative 502 takes away profits from organized crime
  • Marijuana prohibition has wasted billions of American taxpayers’ dollars and has made our communities less safe. Just as when we repealed alcohol Prohibition, we need to take the marijuana profits out of the hands of violent organized crime.
  • Initiative 502 protects our youth. Decades of research show what works to prevent kids from abusing drugs. Based on this research, Initiative 502 restricts advertising and provides funding to proven prevention programs. It also provides funding to programs that help keep kids in school.

 The cons: Two Different Perspectives Against Initiative 502

 If You Support Legalization, Vote No On I-502

  • I-502 would create laws that risk the incrimination of innocent people.
  • The proposed per se DUI mandate will lead to guaranteed conviction rates of unimpaired drivers, due to an arbitrary, unscientific limit.
  • A direct conflict with federal law will prevent any legal production, distribution, or retail of cannabis. With no home growing permitted, and no legal retail system, individuals will be forced to the same black market that promotes violence and crime in our communities.
  • I-502 creates situations in which state employees and business applicants can be charged with manufacture or delivery of marijuana, money laundering, or conspiracy, due to self-incrimination.
  • Sharing marijuana with another adult constitutes felony delivery.

 If You Support Safe & Healthy Communities, Vote No on I-502

  • Legalizing marijuana will greatly increase its availability and lead to more use, abuse, and addiction among adults and youth.
  • Most 12th graders currently report not using marijuana because it is illegal.
  • Marijuana recently surpassed alcohol as the number one reason youth enter substance abuse treatment.
  • I-502 provides no funding for additional treatment costs leaving that burden to taxpayers.
  • I-502 creates new regulations without additional funds to enforce those regulations.
  • Marijuana possession will still be illegal under federal law.
  • This conflict leaves growers, users and employees who sell marijuana at risk for federal prosecution and taxes generated by I-502 subject to seizure by federal authorities.

 I-502 is not legalization

  • There are already laws that address driving while under the influence of cannabis
  • It will do little to nothing to reduce the black market and may increase its presence
  • Implies that cannabis will be treated like alcohol and that is not the case
  • Not designed to withstand a federal challenge. Potential federal preemption of the distribution system will make all of the proposed tax incentives moot
  • Cannabis patients will not receive protection under I-502


New Approach Washington (PAC)

State Senators


I-502 – Washington State, 2012

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