Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A new way to legalize Cannabis is in Washington State for 2012

How is that legalizing Cannabis thing going? Slow, huh. Maybe it's time for a change in the methods that are being used?

Well, check out New Approach Washington dot Org. The Seattle Times newspaper has been talking about it. Seattle's fascinating paper of the people (okay, maybe just the cool people then), The Stranger, has been talking about it. Check out the full initiative.

Alison Holcomb, campaign director of New Approach Washington

The new effort is an initiative to the Legislature, which gives that body a chance to enact it or put it on the November 2012 ballot, either by itself or with the Legislature's bill. In no case would the governor's signature be needed.

On June 22, Washington State, in a way no state has ever attempted, will begin a serious effort to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana. The method: an initiative, filed by a new coalition of health care professionals, lawyers, and drug law reform advocates.

 They have the backing and financial support of the local and national ACLU, powerful labor unions, and Democratic Party supporters that want—maybe even need—the draw of a marijuana measure to increase young voter turnout in a presidential election year.

Key Features of New Approach Washington2012 Marijuana Law Reform Initiative
  • Distribution to adults 21 and over through state-licensed, marijuana-only stores; production and distribution licensed and regulated by Liquor Control Board (LCB)
  • Severable provision decriminalizing adult possession of marijuana; possession by persons under 21 remains a misdemeanor
  • Stringent advertising, location, and license eligibility restrictions enforced by LCB
  • Home growing remains prohibited; except, initiative does not affect Washington's medical marijuana law
  • Estimated $215 million in new state revenue each year, with roughly $40 million going to state general fund (B&O and retail sales tax) and $175 million (new marijuana excise tax) earmarked:
    • Evidence-based prevention strategies targeting youth, chosen in consultation with UW Social Development Research Group
    • Dedicated funding stream for Healthy Youth Survey
    • Washington's Building Bridges program for at-risk youth
    • Science-based public education materials regarding health risks of marijuana use hosted by UW Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute
    • Research by UW and WSU into the short- and long-term effects of marijuana use, including driving impairment
    • Dedicated marijuana Quitline analogous to tobacco Quitline operated by state Department of Health
    • Additional marijuana-related public health educational programs administered by Department of Health at the state and local level
    • Biennial evaluation of impacts of law by Washington State Institute for Public Policy
    • Washington's Basic Health Plan
    • Community health centers
  • THC blood concentration  of 5 ng/mL  or higher  is per se Driving Under the Influence
Alison Holcomb, campaign director of New Approach Washington, is certain the initiative will get on the ballot next year. "A majority of Washington voters support marijuana legalization," she says. "The question is not whether legalization will happen, but when. The answer is 2012."

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