You’re hip to initiative 502, right? Oh, I can understand if you aren’t. Several states currently have cannabis legalization initiatives in process. It can be tough keeping up. Washington’s 502 will go to the voters.
And I haven’t decided, yet, how I’ll vote.
Drift, you’re thinking, how could you not vote for cannabis legalization?!
Well… I’m thinking 502 has a few problems.
The passing of 502 would legalize possession of one ounce or less of usable cannabis, 16 ounces of cannabis infused foods and 72 ounces of infused liquids; for those over 21-years of age. It seems okay on the face of it, eh? Let’s look at what I believe to be a few issues.
502 does not legalize home cultivation. So where would a person purchase their recreational cannabis? The initiative is set up so that distribution would be through privately operated cannabis stores regulated by the state liquor control board. With the voters recently deciding the state will no longer be in the liquor business, I’m not sure the liquor board will exist soon. Let’s ignore that for now.
What we do know is the growers, processors and retailers would be licensed and regulated by the state. That means, state employees would be involved in the distribution of a schedule I drug. That’s a problem. Maybe.
You may recall that Governor Gregoire vetoed all sections of recently passed legislation (see 5073) that had anything to do with state employees involvement with cannabis. She did so (so she’s said, anyway) due to threats of prosecution made by federal attorneys.
So, the State’s involvement could be an issue. Yeah, yeah, go ahead and scream “10th amendment!” That won’t change the harsh reality of the federal government’s attitude about enforcing the CSA however.
The products are to be levied a 25% tax all along the distribution line. Grower to processor, 25%. Processor to retailer, 25%. Retailer to consumer, 25%. Yep, that’s a hell of a lot’a taxing. Here’s a chart from the New Approach Washington (initiative originators) website:
Now, I’m not sure if that’s telling me an ounce of cannabis would sell for $325 or $445. I don’t know that it matters. Well, maybe it does matter because I don’t believe $325 is competitive with the black-market. If a person can buy an ounce from their pot dealing buddy for $275 why the Hell would they buy it from a store? Oh, sure, the stores’ products will have had some sort of production oversight, but still…
502 doesn’t repeal Washington’s medicinal cannabis laws, but some say it would impact patients with a doctor’s recommendation. 502 has a provision that states 5 ng/ml of THC in the blood constitutes driving under the influence. 5 ng/ml is something someone pulled out of their ass. There is absolutely no science that tells us a person with that amount of THC is impaired. Actually, studies indicate 5 ng/ml is way too low.
Folks whom utilize medicinal cannabis could well have more than 5 ng/ml when they climb out of bed in the morning. That is, more than the law would allow, and not be impaired in the least.
Now, please don’t misunderstand, I’m not in favor of people getting behind the wheel while under the influence of anything. The thing is, though, if the law is going to state a given THC load is prima facie evidence of impairment, shouldn’t that amount be based upon… something?
Yeah, 502 has a few rough spots. But then, what if Washington State became the first to legalize (for some value of) possession and recreational use of cannabis? Would other states follow. Would the will of the people win out over the will of corporate America?
Maybe I’ll flip a coin, then vote.