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March 2012
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502

Yesterday, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition endorsed I-502 – Washington’s marijuana legalization initiative

A group of police officers, prosecutors, judges and other criminal justice professionals – including Seattle’s former chief of police – is endorsing I-502, the Washington initiative to regulate and tax marijuana that voters will decide on this November.

Norm Stamper, the former Seattle chief and a spokesman for the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), said, “Everyone knows that marijuana prohibition has failed. When even those who once worked to enforce these laws are saying this, the only logical next step is to enact a system that legalizes, regulates and controls marijuana. Doing so will not only take money away from the gangs and cartels that sell marijuana now, but will generate new, much-needed revenue that can be used to pay the salaries of police officers and teachers and for substance abuse prevention and education.”

This came shortly after Gary Johnson endorsed it this weekend.

Former New Mexico governor and U.S. Presidential candidate Gary Johnson has endorsed Washington State Initiative Measure No. 502 (I-502) to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over. Visiting Washington for the state Libertarian conference, Johnson stated that “Washington’s I-502 is fiscally responsible and socially pragmatic.”

Links:

I haven’t really talked about any initiatives out there this year — I’ve left the wrangling over language and specific provisions to others.

I’m not a fan of the 21 age limit, either for marijuana or for alcohol. I’ve spent too many years working at a university to be deluded into believing that such a limit is practical or workable. All it does is drive the use underground.

However, that said, at this point I’m in favor of any initiative or law that legalizes marijuana for anyone in any way. Until we crack that wall and have some real legalization out there, I’ll take anything — even an initiative legalizing marijuana use for people aged 47-51 on alternate Tuesdays in their bathrooms, if that’ll help it pass. Might as well start somewhere.

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40 comments to 502

  • TieHash

    I agree the 21 years of age limit is silly even for alcohol, if you can vote and fight in the armed forces, that essentially means you are a full fledged adult. If there should be any age limit, it should be for driving as it is shown that teens are the most dangerous drivers.
    My list of activities/things that may cause harm to others.
    1.) Cars
    2.) Firearms
    3.) Fireworks
    4.) Alcohol ( in concert w/ Cars )
    5.) Drugs

    And yet the regulation structure has this in reverse of the actual dangers

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      You might investigate Vermont’s (lack of) gun laws and their almost complete lack of violent crime. Possession of a silencer and ex-convicts owning a gun are both perfectly legal under State law. You’re confusing potential with actual practice.

      There’s a significant pile of supporting evidence for the assertion that so called gun control laws are as epic a failure of public policy as are the so called substance control laws.

      • darkcycle

        It’s one of those attractive, simplistic fixes that ignores human behavior. Sure sounds like it might work though, and like drug laws, they (gun control laws) serve the interests of the Statist Authoritarians.

    • Peter

      auto-erotic asphyxiation kills 600 people annually….we must think of the children….clearly masturbation is the gateway to this terrible threat to our young people and must be prohibited forthwith.

      • claygooding

        I know I have felt better every time I quit the last 40 or 50 times,,,,,

      • primus

        At one time, there were devices which were used to prevent youth from masturbating at night in bed. Makes you wonder what they were thinking: “If we keep him from polishing his knob at night, he’ll never think to do it during the daytime” What???????

    • Francis

      Great list, but wouldn’t it be easier to list the things that kill fewer people than cannabis? And what do you know, it looks like someone has already compiled it.

  • darkcycle

    The sticking point is the DUI provision. It really should be a non-issue though. Even with alcohol, where a handheld breathalyser has been in use for decades, and the tests are essentially free of cost, they still usually only test for cause. Even at random DUI checkpoints, they will only test you if they have some indication you’ve been drinking, otherwise, you get a perfunctory “have a nice night” and you go on your way.
    I figure if I’m in a collision, and that collision is my fault, and I LOOK stoned (Cops do not test at every accident, either), well,….
    Plus, I’d rather wind up with a DUI, as expensive as that is, than a POSSESSION charge. Face it, get a DUI and you will not likely lose your job, your kids, your ability to secure a student loan. You won’t risk being thrown out of public housing, and they will be somewhat less likely to follow you around with a urine sample bottle for an indeterminate number of months. I get that 502 isn’t perfect, but I only know of one perfect thing, ever…my son.

    • Matthew Meyer

      Some in WA are trying to “Prop 19” I-502, talking about how it will launch a DUID pogrom against patients.

      It is leading to some new lows, IMO.

      If you can stomach it, check out this Toke of the Town post on the issue:
      http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2012/03/marijuana_duis_went_up_76_in_nevada_with_per_se_li.php

      Lots of NORML bashing, claims that patients don’t want full legalization, and it just goes downhill from there.

      Those who bash I-502 seem to be waiting for a tomato model measure, with no driving restrictions at all. They haven’t yet told us when they’ll get that on the ballot, and how they’ll get soccer moms to vote for it, though.

      • Duncan20903

        .
        .

        I’m hoping, and I think with good basis, that the per se limit is going to bring a boatload more fence sitters over to the Yes column than there are Know Nothing potheads who will vote No.

        I-502 doesn’t change the requirement for probable cause for testing already detailed in Washington law. That’s one thing that really kills me about the numbnutz who have latched on to this provision and want to kill I-502 because of that part. The only thing that changes is that someone charged with DUI and more than 5 ng/ml loses their affirmative defense. I sure wish someone would dig up how many people charged with DUI-m in Washington in the last 10 years with more than that per se limit actually put up an affirmative defense, and how many were acquitted. My money is on zero and zero.

        Ask yourself…when was the last time a cop detained you for investigation on suspicion of cannabis addled driving? Wow, that makes me flash back to 1978 or 1979 when we got pulled over in Goochland VA by a State Trooper. (Yes, there is a place named Goochland. It’s about 30 miles south of Bumpass VA.) We had been using a power hitter that trip. He rifled through our stuff, and actually picked it up, looked at it and tossed it aside. If your not familiar with a power hitter…linky. Ours did not sport the pot leaf. I really wish I could know what was going through that cop’s brain when he did that. Did he think we had a stray ketchup bottle sitting there on the floor of the car? Anyway, that’s the closest I’ve ever been to seeing someone suspected of cannabis addled driving. I was a passenger on that day.

        • Chris

          I saw a device like that the last time I went to ye olde storefront cannabis collective in Flint Michigan. I had never seen one of these before; it holds smoke, you squeeze it, and inhale! Couldn’t get much easier besides vaporization.

    • Chris

      I really don’t understand the sticking point with the DUI clause. Michigan has a per-se drugged driving law for metabolites (even though a judge recently said this is stupid), which means 100% of the time I am driving… yeah. I’m not exactly worried and would vote for any legalization bill presented to me. Why the hell not? I’d have to be an IDIOT not to. I don’t care if it says you can only grow plants inside a 25×25″ schrodinger’s box, if it makes it legal in some way, I want it. I voted for the last one and it passed and that improved my life tremendously, so it’s too bad the next one probably won’t make it to the ballot this year.

  • Pink Slime (Is Good Food)

    Dunno if there any Coast to Coast AM listeners here but last night they had a retired undercover cop on for three hours who gave a shout out to LEAP and said the drug war is on of the most epic failures ever by the government. Note to Duncan: I have a breath mints looking hitter box complete with rattling mints sound. The local headshop has hitter boxes that look like batteries but they sell like hot cakes and are always sold out.

  • I’ve been organizing volunteers for 502, and the hostility towards our initiative is staggering, but sadly predictable. First, back story…

    In 2010 and 2011, a group of volunteers, most with Sensible Washington, gathered signatures for an initiative that would remove marijuana from state code for persons over 18. Sale, growth, transportation, etc, all of it would be legalized until the legislature made regulations.

    The argument went that this was the same strategy used when Washington ended alcohol prohibition. One Sensible Washington supporter even said “Regulations aren’t our problem.” But campaigns have changed since prohibition was repealed. I didn’t trust the state legislature to make laws that made sense. Pete’s “an initiative legalizing marijuana use for people aged 47-51 on alternate Tuesdays in their bathrooms” seemed possible if no regulations were included. Finally I pretended to be an “on the fence” voter and thought, would I vote for something that only legalized without regulating. I probably wouldn’t.

    My train of thought was repeated by folks at the ACLU, NORML, and a lot of activists and donors, all of whom decided they weren’t comfortable with an initiative that left so much to chance. One of the first people to pass on it was Alison Holcomb, then the head of WA-ACLU’s drug policy wing, now the director of the i-502 campaign. Holcomb made it clear to Sensible Washington that the ACLU wasn’t comfortable with such vague language.

    To be fair, Holcomb’s opinion was the death knell for the initiative because she’s so respected in the movement from here to the other Washington. She likely knew that her “No thanks.” would be the basis for others responses. A lot of the people who supported Sensible WA’s initative are good activists, but not with loads of campaign experience. Holcomb when on to do what she said she would do. Run a professional campaign with a real shot at winning.

    But some stoners, it seems, don’t forget. Many Sensible Washington supporters became convinced that Holcomb’s choice was personal. This fostered an environment where Holcomb and others are accused of being in cahoots with the Drug Czar, prosecutors, probably Stalin too. Facts about the initiative are freely ignored, confused, and misrepresented. People believe we’re going to allow roadside tests of urine, revoke medical marijuana defenses, and probably collect neat little lists of users to hand to the feds. Crazy stuff.

    What I’m getting at is that while it is relieving to find my favorite drug war blogger gets that progress is progress, the people who are against i-502 aren’t going to go away or keep quiet. My advice is go to the source http://www.NewApproachWA.org read the initiative yourself, but if you live in Washington state, please help us in the fall!

    • darkcycle

      Bailey, I’m with you all the way. I’m a little amazed at the way some people are reacting to the best chance we’ll have for the next four years to change prohibition. And lets be clear….this would be a HUGE thing, not simply for Washington, or the Nation, but for the entire effing world! PLEASE support 502!

    • divadab

      If you’re relying on demonising “stoners” to get your Initiative passed, who exactly do you represent?

      I’ve heard this line from other proponents – “This is not the stoners’ Initiative”, as if this makes it somehow better.

      • darkcycle

        Demonizing stoners? Wha?

      • Matthew Meyer

        divadab, will you please explain what you are talking about?

      • divadab,

        Yes you did detect a bit of condescension towards stoners, a group with which I’d previously counted myself in good standing. A couple years back on election day I volunteered for a medical marijuana initiative. I was stationed across the street from a 35 year old, bearded, long haired, and not particularly clean person, whose campaign personality was to hold a sign, wave the peace sign, and yell “Fuck yea man.” If any cars or passers-by expressed support. The initiative lost later that night.

        There’s nothing wrong with being a stoner, or even dirty. Unless you want to win a general election. This guy was nice, and didn’t seem dumb, but he was naive in the extreme. Understanding why prohibition sucks is not the same as understanding how to win campaigns. I don’t think 502 is the best ending of our movement. But it’s a hell of a start.

        As for growing, yeah it sucks, but for the moment all of the states/nations neighboring ours prohibit it, we have to be extra cautious just to appear vaguely competent. (I call it the 10 yard penalty of drug policy)If the feds can argue (reasonably) that our law creates an environment where pot can be trafficked, they’ll have “legal” cover to crack down on it. So yes, our initiative leaves a lot to be desired, which is how I know it has a real chance at passing.

        I’m not against stoners, but I am against people who don’t play the game telling me I don’t know the rules.

  • divadab

    Another problem with I-502 is that it corporatizes cannabis production and distribution with no provision for personal gardening. People can grow up to five lbs. of tobacco annually for personal use without buying a tobacco excise stamp – why deny this for cannabis?

    And putting ANY regulation on cannabis will trigger federal preemption. Sensible WA’s I-1068 avoided this in the same way Washington State ended alcohol prohibition in the twenties without triggering federal preemption – by ending PENALTIES, but maintaining a form of prohibition. Montana ended the 55 mph speed limit in the same way – it was still the speed limit, but the fine for exceeding it was $5, immediately refunded.

    I-502 is flawed. I’m undecided as to whether to support it as a “step in the right direction” despite its major flaws.

    • darkcycle

      Those concerns pale in comparison to the massive stroke against prohibition that this would be. IMHO, none of that really matters. I’m a grower and I’m not bothered one bit by the language in 502. In fact, as much as I’d hate losing my garden (and I won’t), I’d gladly give it up for this. I’m afraid that after almost forty years of waiting, I’m with Pete. And Bailey.

      • divadab

        SO you would support I-502 but continue to break the law?

        • darkcycle

          I’m not clear that would be the implementation. Nothing in 502 preempts the State’s established Medical Marijuana Law, so I still have a fifteen plant limit. I must say, I don’t like breaking the law, less now that I have a child at home. But that being said, prohibition is prohibition, and I got my gardening skills LONG before I ever had an affirmative defense, Diva. SO, give me a viable alternative to breaking an unjust law and I’ll take it. I have confidence in my ability to grow fine cannabis, but I’m not the only one in the world with ability. So. There’s your (non) answer.

        • darkcycle

          Hey, whatever happened to coffee?

        • darkcycle

          502 is the only good reason to vote this time around, AFAIC.

        • divadab

          I agree that the usual cast of congress-critters is not exactly inspiring.

          I’d also add that the current Washington State MMJ regime is fostering a healthy cottage industry that discourages profiteering and other bad behavior!

        • Duncan20903

          .
          .

          So divadab, if you decide that you prefer the status quo and feeding the prohibitionists with yet another defeated referendum for their propaganda mill, are you going to continue to break the law?

          I may find myself unable to continue arguing that pot doesn’t make you stupid if the Know Nothing potheads manage to get I-502 defeated. It takes a genuine moron to hold out for (perceived) perfection when their side has 20% of the vote at best for that “perfect” law.

        • darkcycle

          Diva…do what ever your conscience tells you. But you’re falling victim to the gamblers delusion; you are ahead in the game, but you’re still in the casino. Brother, you haven’t won shit until you make it out into the parking lot. And no, if you stay a little longer, you will NOT double your winnings. That’s all I have to say ’bout that.

        • divadab

          @Duncan – I don’t care about the “prohibitionist propaganda mill” – we know they’re self-serving liars and making a political decision based on what they will do seems a bad strategy to me. I’m concerned that I-502 will enshrine bad law – why rush into it when the current regime in WA is pretty benign? Your argument is that “the perfect is the enemy of the good” – I’m just not convinced that I-502 is good.

          Incidentally, calling someone who disagrees with you a moron is usually a sign you’ve run out of arguments.

        • divadab

          @darkside – bad metaphor. This ain’t no casino – we’re already winning, and continue to do so – where it counts – in the real world. Without triggering federal preemption. The longer we keep building up our local cannabis markets, the more the moral degenerates who make their living using the tool of prohibition to oppress the innocent are revealed for what they are.

          Prohibition will end ultimately because it must be maintained by force and lies and unjust dominion. It’s too expensive and diminishes respect for government.

        • darkcycle

          Until we change the law we ain’t goin’ nowhere.

    • claygooding

      If Texas passes a legalization measure that doesn’t allow personal grows I guess I will have to obey the law,,,for a change,,I hope they are listening.

      • Jose

        Clay, as a fellow Texas I must chime in. I do not think most folks realize just how evil TX cannabis laws are. Anything remotely resembling decriminalization would be a huge step. In my little town busts measuring in grams often make the front page of the paper and are made to look like a major bust. Just today I drove by 3 LEO’s tearing apart someones mini-van on the roadside. I really think folks in more progressive states do not realize just how good they have it when Texans are doing time in county over a few grams. Honestly regret coming back to TX after finishing up my final tour in the Persian Gulf.

        • claygooding

          Welcome back Jose,,and don’t go nowhere,,and thanks man for helping then and we need you in Texas now,,,I served 1 year in a war zone for my country and 44 years on the winning side of the war on drugs,,stay and help Texas change.

        • Jose

          Heartfelt thanks for your kind words. A bigger thanks for your service. No one ever said “Welcome back” it was always “What will you do?.. Where will you work? What about your kids? Re-enlist?” I know TX is a good place, we just have to take it back! I just wish they would learn what happens when a country makes it’s citizens the enemy. Hell, we have both seen it firsthand overseas. It never works. At least not for long….

  • Francis

    There’s a great Far Side cartoon that shows three people in tattered clothes struggling across a parched desert to reach an unexplainable drinking fountain in the middle of the sand. The one in the lead pushes the button and says, “Now just hold your horses, everyone. Let’s let it run for a minute and see if it gets any colder.”

    When I hear fellow reformers suggest that people should vote against I-502 because of the DUI provision, I feel… well, let’s just say I’m reminded of that cartoon. (But yeah, I wish the water were colder too.)

    • divadab

      Well, Francis, my point is that we’re not in the desert, at least in WA (Sorry about TX – but that’s not the State under discussion). My concern is that I-502, besides being flawed, will trigger a massive federal intervention – which our current regime IS NOT.

      If we are about to enter a battle with the feds over I-502, are you ready? Is it good enough to go to war over? If we lose, it will be several steps back.

      That said, it has to happen sometime. When was the last time the feds won a war?

      • Francis

        Hey divadab, sorry for the slow reply. Couple of reactions:

        my point is that we’re not in the desert, at least in WA

        What do you mean we’re not in the…? OH SHIT! Guys, I think divadab’s got heat stroke! Quick, somebody bring me the canteen! 😉 (Just kidding.) But even if you don’t think we’re in the “desert,” I think we can all agree that we’re not yet in the “Promised Land.” I support I-502 because I think it takes us closer — despite its flaws. In my view it’s a “10 steps forward step, 1 step back” kind of deal.

        My concern is that I-502, besides being flawed, will trigger a massive federal intervention – which our current regime IS NOT.

        If we are about to enter a battle with the feds over I-502, are you ready? Is it good enough to go to war over? If we lose, it will be several steps back.

        That said, it has to happen sometime. When was the last time the feds won a war?

        I think forcing the issue with the feds (i.e. “going to war”) is the whole point! Is the initiative “good enough” for that purpose? Hell yeah! You go to war with the initiative you have, not the initiative you want. (Isn’t that what Rumsfeld said?) And you’re right, the feds haven’t won a war in a while. And this is one they can’t win. They’re bankrupt, financially and morally. I WISH it were my state on the “frontlines” of this war, but unfortunately that’s not in the cards.

        And just for the record since I know tone can be hard to convey online, I don’t begrudge anyone voting their conscience. If you think that I-502’s negatives outweigh its positives, I don’t think that makes you a “traitor to the cause” or anything like that. People of good will can disagree. But I personally believe that getting a “full legalization” initiative passed in at least one state (preferably several) is a HUGELY-IMPORTANT step in ending cannabis prohibition for the nation and the world. And so I find the situation a little frustrating. That was my only point in mentioning the Gary Larson cartoon.

  • darkcycle

    Larson was a keen observer of the human condition. The man could spot the absurd in the ordinary like no one before or since. That cartoon is prescient.