– Publicola provided an update on the ongoing friction between the ACLU of Washington and Sensible Washington regarding legalization initiatives. Last year, the ACLU didn’t like the way the initiative was set up and refused to endorse it. Sensible Washington is once again planning to file an initiative and there are two issues that continue to keep these two organizations apart.
The first is the lack of regulation language in the bill. After the failure of Proposition 19 in California this year, it should be pretty clear that an initiative that doesn’t adequately address the regulation aspect of ending marijuana prohibition is a ripe target for effective “scare” ads. I think the ACLU is absolutely right to pressure Sensible Washington to include some language to that effect.
The other issue involved the timing of an initiative. I’m not in agreement with the ACLU that there’s much to be gained by waiting until 2012. When I crunched the numbers to compare demographic turnouts between 2008 and 2010 in California, I found that it would’ve only made a 2.4% difference in the percentage of Yes votes. But those two years represented two opposite extremes in which types of voters came out to vote. As Publicola points out and Dawdy backs up, off-year elections don’t tend to be skewed too greatly either for or against liberal causes in this state. And it’s not clear that 2012 will have as heavy a liberal turnout as 2008 did. It’s very likely that the difference between running in 2011 and running in 2012 would be negligible.
– The Cannabis Defense Coalition was curious about how the Washington State Department of Revenue arrived at their recent decision to send out tax notices to the state’s still-illegal medical marijuana dispensaries, so they did what they do best and filed a public disclosure request. After reading through the documents, there are few surprises to be found. The Department of Revenue was contacted several times (the first time in 2006) about whether dispensaries should collect sales tax on what they sell to patients. The DOR investigated and found that: a) it doesn’t matter that the money is being made illegally, and b) medical marijuana is not a prescription, so it isn’t exempted by the existing laws that don’t allow a sales tax on prescription drugs. Despite this, the internal emails among the DOR did reveal some interesting discourse.
– Some data was released recently showing that 59 police officers across the United States were shot and killed in the line of duty this past year. That figure includes federal, state, and local officers. To give some perspective on the Mexican drug war, nearly 70 municipal police officers were shot and killed in Juarez alone in 2010.