by Lee, 12/12/2012, 9:03 PM

Nina Shapiro in the Seattle Weekly writes about Norm Stamper’s regrets about I-502:

“I now question whether Washington state’s initiative needed to be as restrictive as it is,” Stamper says.

One of the restrictions he’s referring to is the initiative’s dui provision, which establishes a so-called “per-se” standard that would result in a conviction for anyone found to have 5 nanograms of active THC (a compound found in marijuana). This provision was the subject of fierce controversy during the campaign, with some activists arguing that pot affects people differently, so it doesn’t make sense to set one standard for impairment. Medical marijuana activists also insisted that the provision would essentially render them unable to drive because of all the THC in their bloodstream from regular use.

One of my biggest concerns about the DUI provision wasn’t even so much the language itself, but the fact that it could serve as a foothold towards a “bi-partisan consensus” that our existing DUI laws aren’t sufficient and that stoned driving is some new and unique challenge that we have to deal with. It isn’t. But with the ONDCP sounding the alarm about it, it’s easier for them to point to drug law reform activists who’ve exaggerated the danger in order to open the door to even worse provisions. Seeing that Stamper (and Rep. Goodman) both recognize the need to fix the DUI provisions is a good sign that we might not slide down that slippery slope.

Shapiro makes another important point about the DUI provisions in I-502:

But here’s the thing: Colorodo’s successful legalization measure, Amendment 64, didn’t have any dui provision at all. It also allows limited home-grows (six plants, to be exact). And yet, Stamper points out, that amendment passed by a “very, very healthy” margin, with 55 percent of voters giving it the thumbs up–almost the exact same as Washington’s more restrictive initiative.

I’ve been very critical of New Approach Washington over this point, but I still have a ton of respect for the work they did to get this passed. With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that including the DUI provision was a mistake, but it was an understandable one. Only a fool expects perfection in any voter initiative. And now other states can learn from our experience and win the next battle.

13 Responses to “The Hangover”

1. I Got Nuthin' spews:

Colorado’s Amendment 64 doesn’t have the DUI provision and allows for home grown, but it also allows counties to “opt-out” or develop local licenses and regulations. That’s a far messier proposition.

2. Charles spews:

Unfortunately, the DUI provision was crucial to getting it passed. Making the most vocal marijuana activists upset and thus opposed to the measure was THE GOAL of the provision. It allowed the mushball middle to cast a vote against BOTH prohibitionist powergrabbing cops AND the most obnoxious potheads.

3. Lee spews:

@1
There’s some truth to that, and I think California’s initiative was dinged over this in particular.

@2
Unfortunately, the DUI provision was crucial to getting it passed.

No, it wasn’t. That’s simply not true, and we have the data to back it up. Colorado’s initiative garnered the same percentage of the vote without any DUI provisions. There’s no reason to believe that ours wouldn’t have still passed without them too.

It may have sounded like a necessary strategy for playing to the middle, but that was a misunderstanding of how deeply people consider the contents of the initiative. When you have the kinds of high level law enforcement folks cutting ads for it that I-502 did, it’s going to win over the mushy middle, regardless of the actual language of the initiative.

4. ArtFart spews:

This might indeed raise the spectre of a whole new new opportunity for the enforcement/penal/industrial complex.

After all (and excuse me for belaboring the obvious) the law is being changed not because the majority of voters think pot is wonderful, but because the “war on drugs” has shown itself to be a ghastly failure that caused far more harm than the “problem” it was supposedly created to solve. Worse yet, since more than a few peoples’ livelihoods (and some hefty corporate profits) stemmed from it, we should beware of history repeating itself. After Prohibition ended, a new use was found (fuckyouverymuch, Harry Anslinger) for the same methods, infrastructure and people to tilt at the windmill of “killer weed”.

5. Chris spews:

For I-502, the lack of home-grow (even just one or two plants) bothers me more than the DUI provisions. Allow home-grow and the black market takes a serious hit, even if the feds go gonzo and prevent the state stores from opening sometime in the still-indefinite future. (I actually don’t think the feds will take such a heavy hand in WA, but when it comes to drug policy it’s all too easy to underestimate their capacity for rash, self-defeating action.)

6. Politically Incorrect spews:

“I actually don’t think the feds will take such a heavy hand in WA, but when it comes to drug policy it’s all too easy to underestimate their capacity for rash, self-defeating action.”

I certainly hope the feds will butt-out and leave us alone when it comes to cannabis. I sent Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell an email each, reminding them that their job is to support the state’s decisions, and that includes I-502. If they don’t support legalization of cannabis, they’re not doing their primary job.

7. Smart spews:

Don’t smoke…problem solved.

8. dont bogart it dude spews:

@5

RE: Homegrown

but I thought the stoners told us that the state would make shitloads of tax money from selling the stink-weed and taxing it to the max. Of course this argument was to convince non-stoners to vote for 502 in light of the (democrat party led) state’s budget woes.

how the hell is state gonna make any greenbacks if everyone gets to grow at home?

bait……………..and switch.

9. Chris spews:

@8

Huh? Some states excise taxes on homebrewed alcohol, why not on homegrown hippie grass (via personal-use growing licenses or some similar mechanism) as well? Damages black market regardless of federal response to I-502, raises revenue, everybody’s happy.

10. Lee spews:

@5
My thought on the home grow was that despite it’s illegality for non-patients, it wouldn’t stop people from having small private grows (5-20 plants). If someone wants to do that, they’ll either get a bogus medical auth (still not hard to do) or just do it illegally.

And I doubt there’ll still be that much interest on the part of the police to go after people who are only growing a few plants privately in their own home. Before, when the whole thing was illegal, it made sense to go after every source they could find. That mindset is likely to become a thing of the past.

Of course, if you live in an apartment or in close proximity to others, and you’re growing some stinky plants, you should expect your neighbors to rat you out.

This is almost worthy of its own post. Thanks for the comment.

11. dont bogart it dude spews:

9. Chris spews:
@8

Huh? Some states excise taxes on homebrewed alcohol, why not on homegrown hippie grass (via personal-use growing licenses or some similar mechanism) as well? Damages black market regardless of federal response to I-502, raises revenue, everybody’s happy.

12/13/2012 AT 6:09 PM

you really think the stoners are going to report to the state how many plants they are growing at home – just so they can get taxed?

not..

12. MikeBoyScout spews:

Good News

Recreational marijuana should not be top federal priority: Obama

President Barack Obama says federal authorities should not target recreational marijuana use in two Western states where it has been made legal given limited government resources and growing public acceptance of the controlled substance.

His first comments on the issue come weeks after Washington state and Colorado voters supported legalizing pot, or cannabis, last month in ballot measures that stand in direct opposition of federal law.

“It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that’s legal,” he told ABC News in part of an interview released on Friday.

“At this point (in) Washington and Colorado, you’ve seen the voters speak on this issue. And, as it is, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions,” Obama said.

13. Chris spews:

@11: Hypothetically, if home growers really were so paranoid that they weren’t registering legal grows (and hey, larger scale commercial growers will supposedly be doing just that under I-502) the tax could be implemented without the state ever having the grower’s address, for example by selling licenses that are kept on-site. These could be made non-transferable by use of a key associated with the result of a hash function, with some grower information as input (e.g., street number and last 4 digits of SSN, perhaps); the state would only need to have and record the hash for each license; the grower could calculate the hash himself if desired. Make the hash function sufficiently weak and it is impossible to use brute force to determine the original inputs, thanks to collisions, but it’s still easy to determine whether a given grow is licensed or not. The policy would not even be terribly difficult to implement. That’s if WA decides the tax on home-grown is necessary: Colorado apparently doesn’t (it’s in A64).

@12: More important than what Obama said there, I think, is what he didn’t say. He did say he wasn’t keen to go after recreational users in legal states, but that’s not surprising. He said nothing about interfering with state cannabis shops or growers in legal states, which seems to suggest he’s still considering doing that.