Washington I-502; A Chance to Take Some Power Back
Posted by Amanda Bowers
On November 6th, Washington State Initiative 502 will appear on your ballot as the following:
“This measure would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over twenty-one; remove state-law criminal and civil penalties for activities that it authorizes; tax marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues. “
I have read some fairly compelling arguments against I-502, from people who support legalization.
First of all, there is the 25% tax. Yikes. That’s a lot of tax. Even so, you would be able to buy a small amount of marijuana, legally. That’s not happening anywhere else, folks. Nobody’s forcing you to pay the tax, it’s just part of the package of a legal purchase in Washington State. You could choose to opt out of marijuana altogether.
I-502 does not give you new rights for personal cultivation.
“The only marijuana that would be legal to sell in this state would be grown by specially-licensed Washington farmers and sold in standalone, marijuana-only stores operated by private Washington businesses licensed and regulated by the state.”
I-502 would create new DUID laws.
There’s a lot of argument over the science which decides what level of THC can be in your blood stream if you are pulled over and a blood test is required. We all know that marijuana stays in your system for several days or even weeks after use, so wouldn’t this lead to a DUID whether you had been smoking or not? Apparently there are different ways that marijuana can show up in your bloodstream. One of those ways is through an inactive metabolite which stays in your system, though not causing intoxication. This is the element responsible for the continued presence of marijuana. It is also known as Carboxy THC. Regular THC actually dissipates in a few hours, and therefore would not show up in a blood test unless you had recently used it, or so the 502 proponents say. Let’s face it, there might be some glitches to work out.
I’ve heard other concerns as well, but the reality is, for those of us who support legalizing/decriminalizing marijuana, there is not going to be a perfect initiative right now. Even so, the fact that we have an Initiative on the ballot at all, and that it has a huge amount of support, is quite a victory.
I know that some of us would like to hold out for something that leaves marijuana use more in the hands of the individual than the state, but right now it isn’t even in the hands of the state.
By passing any kind of legalization we are acting counter to the federal government. Right now they are essentially telling us that not only do we as individuals not have the right to decide this issue, but we as a state do not have the right to decide this issue either. That’s right, even your state as a whole isn’t wise enough to make its own choices in such matters.
This is not Constitutional.
When the federal government wanted to institute the prohibition of alcohol, they knew they didn’t have the authority to do so. Thus, the 18th Amendment was born. When it took affect in January of 1920, the demand for alcohol didn’t suddenly diminish, jails just got a lot more crowded. Prohibition criminalized not only the selling of alcohol, but also production, transport, and consumption. We all know about the exploits of Al Capone and the expansion of organized crime.
We’ve been watching the same thing happen in the war on drugs for years. Gangs have grown, violence has escalated, and maybe worst of all has been the ongoing corruption of our law enforcement. But this time, Congress didn’t even bother with a Constitutional amendment. I guess by now they figured that they could pass whatever laws they wanted, regardless of Constitutional authority.
That is not okay.
Here at the Tenth Amendment Center we believe that ultimate authority lies in the Constitution. Its purpose is to restrain the government from overreach, but a piece of paper can’t do that by itself. It requires the people to be diligent, act, refuse to submit to those who would set themselves up as rulers.
The federal government has no authority over what you consume or grow in your backyard. So, while this Initiative isn’t perfect, it IS an opportunity for us to nullify the federal bullies, recognize our state rights, and make a legalization decision for ourselves. We will still be able to hammer this issue out, here in Washington, and hopefully end up with something better. Remember that until recently we also bought our alcohol from state run establishments, but we voted to change that. The point is, this is only a beginning.
Perhaps we will be pioneers in the legalization movement, and other states – with superior Initiatives – will follow where we have lead.
You can read the Initiative in it’s entirety at; http://sos.wa.gov/_assets/elections/initiatives/i502.pdf
Amanda Bowers is the Washington State Chapter Coordinator for the Tenth Amendment Center, and assists the national outreach team by working to rally grassroots activists.