The Washington state initiative to legalize marijuana has been certified by the Secretary of State’s office, meaning that it will appear on the general election ballot this November. The only way that the initiative will not appear is if the Legislature acts and attempts to have the initiative blocked.
Secretary of State Sam Reed’s office announced yesterday that Initiative 502 submitted almost 278,000 signatures, exceeding the 241,153 signatures that they needed in order to qualify for placement on the ballot, according the the Associated Press.
Under Initiative 502, Marijuana would be regulated similarly to alcohol. There would be a system of stores throughout Washington where adults 21 and older could buy marijuana.
Adults would be able to buy up to one ounce of marijuana at a time. Edibles and drinkables would also be available– adults could purchase up to one pound of edibles or 72 ounces of cannabis-infused drunks at a time.
There would be a small amount of state-licensed growers, and a 25% excise tax would be imposed at each stage of the production process.
The revenue earned through the marijuana program’s excise tax would then be put toward funding specific aspects of the state, including education, healthcare, and “substance abuse prevention” research.
There are a few primary concerns with the proposed Initiative. The Initiative prohibits home growing, and can lead individuals who are caught driving with over 5 nanograms of active THC/milliliter of blood to receive a charge of Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis.
The latter concern has been raised primarily by members of the medical marijuana community, arguing that their blood level is always above 5 nanograms/milliliter due to the high amount of medication they must consume in order to treat their symptoms. Medical marijuana patients would still be able to grow up to 15 plants under I-502, in spite of the “no grow” stipulation in the Initiative.
This is a huge step for the legalization movement in Washington, and has the potential to set a precedent that will impact how marijuana is viewed throughout the rest of the country.