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.