Marijuana activists are taking another shot at a ballot measure legalizing the drug for adults under state law — but they hope lawmakers beat them to it.
The organization Sensible Washington filed an initiative Wednesday that would remove all state criminal and civil penalties for the possession, use and sale of marijuana in any quantity. But one of the effort’s organizers, Philip Dawdy, said the group would likely be happy to drop it if the Legislature passes a bill introduced this week that would make pot available in state liquor stores.
The initiative filed by Sensible Washington this time includes some language directing the legislature to establish regulations for the newly legalized market. This was a liability that cost the I-1068 campaign support last year. Building on last year’s momentum, they’re more optimistic about getting the 241,000 signatures they need.
On Tuesday, state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle, filed a bill that would allow the sale of marijuana to people 21 and over through state liquor stores. The Liquor Control Board would issue licenses to commercial growers, and revenue from sales taxes and license fees — possibly hundreds of millions of dollars a year, according to supporters — could help pay for health care and substance-abuse treatment.
Dickerson’s bill is great, but I’m not too optimistic that it could get through the legislature. And even if it did, I doubt Governor Gregoire would have the courage to sign it into law. Either way, the people of this state continue to demand that we look at marijuana law reform as a key component in how we fix our budget problems.
UPDATE: As expected, the top-voted question in Obama’s latest YouTube contest is about drug policy. He’s expected to address the leading questions from the White House this afternoon.
UPDATE 2: LEAP discusses Obama’s response.