Taking the Next Step

Last week, the attention was on an upgrade to the medical marijuana bill. This week, the focus is on legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use:

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.


  1. 1

    What do you expect spews:

    There is 0% chance this ‘law’ makes it through committee, gets a vote and is signed by the Governor. 0%.

    Our politicians are cowards and zealots. The liberals don’t want to be seen as ‘soft on crime’ (which in fabulous circular logic, is only a crime BECAUSE they passed a law making it a crime). The small government ‘leave me alone’ Republicans have turned into moral religious government folks who want a uber power government to control every aspect of my life for “moral reasons” (but just not for tax/money reasons).

    How bad has this gotten? Look at the State Liquor Store issue. It passed in the liberal Seattle region. It’s the rural conservative Republicans who voted to KEEP the State monopoly over a business. The Republicans want the government to literally SELL a product to consumers, outlawing the ability of private for-profit companies (CostCo) to do the same. That sounds exactly BACKWARDS of everything you hear Republicans say they want…so why? Big government control is ok if it’s controlling our morals.

    The combination of these 2 forces means this has no chance.

  2. 2

    suggestion spews:

    the marijuana laws won’t change till everyone who’s smoked pot steps forward and explains to the rest of america how it’s not a big deal.

    how many legislators have smoked pot, yet will vote against legalization? a third of them, or is it half?

    the media does not even ask them. it’s still like we’re all in high school afraid to nark someone out; as a result the argument continues and in the end, when it’s time to vote, the reptilian fear energy unleashed by the war on drugs industrial beneficiaires, such as cops, right wingers, etc., will carry the day. you don’t defeat this fear preying on the swing voter thru argument, facts, etc. You certainly don’t defeat it with initiatives led by long haried hippy looking defense lawyers who embody the antithesis of swing voters’ values and mores. you don’t sell this by showing pictures of hempfest and you don’t sell it with little logos of weed all over the place, weed, druggies, we’re different than you, etc. you sell it by totally normalizing weed to make it like wine and you do that by having all pot smokers come out of the closet and show the swing voters there’s nothing threatening. there was not ONE voter who failed to sign their initiative because he or she was worred about the single subject rule, serious, what a joke. Their initiative failed because it was led by a much of pothead looking people. You want a Booth Gardner on youtube telling everyone he smoked pot, you want a PTA leader saying no, I don’t really want to send my boy to jail for smoking pot, but I’d rather catch him smoking pot than drinking whiskey, you want just normal folks on tv or youtube talking about pot, smoking it, making it look like what it is, a mild relaxant nothing more dangerous than a couple glasses of wine. you have to shatter the myths and fears on a subliminal level, btw exposing that those opposing make money off the war on drugs helps, too. but simply making logical arguments with policy talk? ain’t gonna work.

  3. 3

    suggestion spews:

    any movement whose name is a pun on latin words — total message failure.

    sensi – ble washington. ha; ha; every graduate school educated person in the state will get it. sensimilla, sensible, it’s not sensible, but if you “get it” you’re “one of us” in our little pot smoking work, heh, heh, cool.

    wow, what a message. all ironic, too. irony really works in politics, right?

  4. 4

    Undercover Brother spews:

    sorry but the posters at 1-3 are wrong.

    it is…has been…and will always be about the MONEY….and there is much, MUCH more of it in the ‘war on pot’ that there would ever be in the legalization of such.

    once again greed proves to be the american way

  5. 5


    The sad thing is that after voters pass an initiative (which is very likely to happen either this year or next) and make it legal, you’ll hear jackasses in the legislature complain about how they don’t like the voter-written law.

  6. 6

    Steve spews:

    “it is…has been…and will always be about the MONEY….and there is much, MUCH more of it in the ‘war on pot’ that there would ever be in the legalization of such”

    It used to puzzle me why it wasn’t legalized long ago, seeing as how there’d be a lot of money in it for a handful of corporations. In the last year I finally reached the same conclusion that you’ve expressed here.

  7. 7

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    Well, it certainly will never be the cowards in any state or national legislature that finally get their heads out of their asses and legalizes cannabis. The initiative process is the only way we can bring some sanity into the discussion of legalization. It’s way past time to realize that using cannabis isn’t going to stop because of some hysteria ginned-up by William Randolph Hurst et. al. 80 years ago. Cannabis should have never been made illegal in the first place!

  8. 8

    CC "Bud" Baxter spews:

    Last year cannabis legalization was also the top question in Obama’s Youtube stuff. He laughed it off and didn’t answer the question. He will do the same this year, you watch. He’ll make a joke and move to the next question.

  9. 9

    advice spews:

    proponents of ending prohibition need to make it about money but most of all need to come out of the closet and normalize pot smoking ….the pot smokers today are the cowards, hiding in the closet, trying to get undecided swing voters to vote their way without coming forward.

    If you’re keeping yourselves in hiding, how do you expect to be able to define the issue ? The anti pot forces will define the issue, they will define you. You can’t define yourself or pot if you stay in the closet.

    Seriously, you KNOW there are legislators who’ve smoked pot, doctors, ministers, lawyers, accountants and not just that guy on Weeds, they all have to come forward to show everyone else it’s no big deal and until they do, these initiatives are gonna fail.

  10. 10

    CC "Bud" Baxter spews:

    About “coming out of hiding” about cannabis use, all I know is that I have known too many good and decent people fired for off-duty cannabis use. Remember the urine test is not an impairment test. It is simply a positive/negative that you had THC in your system at some indeterminate time in the past. In this terrible economy, losing your job because of off duty behavior that doesn’t affect your job performance is a horrendous penalty. It is a penalty right up there with going to jail

    When you compare cannabis with the death and destruction caused by two legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco, the reasons for cannabis legalization are even more important. The fear of losing your job is literally driving many people to use way more dangerous drugs like alcohol.

  11. 11

    CC "Bud" Baxter spews:

    Seriously, you KNOW there are legislators who’ve smoked pot, doctors, ministers, lawyers, accountants and not just that guy on Weeds, they all have to come forward to show everyone else it’s no big deal and until they do, these initiatives are gonna fail.

    Aside from possible pre-employment drug testing (if that even), when was a doctor, minister, lawyer or accountant forced to pee in a cup to keep their job? They aren’t. No, the boot is squarely placed on the working class, especially with lower paying and union jobs.

    If pot becomes legal, the urine test will be no good. There goes millions of dollars per year to the drug testing companies. There goes the jackboot they have placed squarely on the neck of working class people. This isn’t about doing what is right. This is about corporate america putting working class people under their thumb.

  12. 12

    Winston Wolf spews:

    gonna be real interesting after the first couple of-on-the-job accidents and deaths due to legal marijuana use.

  13. 13

    Chris spews:

    @3 I guess thats your argument against legalizing marijuana. Since there really is no argument to keeping it illegal, the best you have is making fun of a name.

  14. 14

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    gonna be real interesting after the first couple of-on-the-job accidents and deaths due to legal marijuana use.”

    So, we should therefore make alcohol and tobacco illegal, too. Yeah, that’ll work!

    We tried Prohibition 90 years ago, and it was the most miserable failure we’ve ever experienced. People are gonna use alcohol, and some people are gonna use cannabis. Neither user should be considered a criminal for his or her choices, and their activities should be absolutely legal!!