As a follow-up to Goldy’s post below, there’s already a group organizing an initiative for Washington. It’s called Sensible Washington and they expect to release the final wording of their initiative and begin signature gathering by March 1. Their initiative is not expected to specify the state liquor stores as the distributors, but will only legalize possession for adults. The state would then be on the hook for setting up regulations for where and how it can be sold.
One of the concerns of legalization advocates (both Goldy and I share this concern) is that there won’t be enough money to collect the necessary signatures. As the top post at Sensible Washington points out, PayPal has a history of freezing the accounts of drug law reform groups, and banks won’t work with them. I’d be curious to know how much of this results from archaic rules and misconceptions about drug law reform, and how much comes from potential crackdowns from the federal government. As for Paypal, one clue might be that one of its founders considers the era of alcohol prohibition as the last great era of American politics (I guess that makes him a libertarian).
So for now, they’re taking mail-in donations before a volunteer army of signature gatherers hit the ground across the state to put this initiative on the ballot. There’s certainly enthusiasm for drug law reform right now, but no one is really sure whether it will be enough to qualify. I guess we’re about to find out.
As an followup to Lee’s followup, Sensible Washington’s account of their difficulties in securing credit card processing is worth a read. On the one hand, if millionaire investment banker Michael Dunmire wants an initiative on the ballot, he just writes Tim Eyman a check; on the other hand, if a group of grassroots activists wants to raise money online from small contributors, the banks won’t give them a merchant account, out of fear of I don’t know what.
So much for “direct democracy.”
That said, I emailed the folks at Sensible Washington earlier today to suggest that they set up an account with ActBlue, the same progressive online fundraising site through which we collectively raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Darcy Burner. ActBlue is now set up to handle state legislative and initiative campaigns in Washington state, in addition to federal races, a feature that R-71 made good use of last year.