Our opposition to Initiative 502 was not a decision
made in haste. We examined this measure from multiple angles, looking at
the political ramifications, the legal implications, and the social
benefits and consequences. We came to a clear conclusion: Initiative 502
is not a positive step forward for our state, and we can do better.
• Initiative 502 will retain cannabis as a schedule 1 controlled substance under state law.
classification declares cannabis equal to heroin in danger and
illegality. Instead of legalization, it will set up a narrow exception
for certain activities, such as possession of a small amount. However,
gifting or sharing, such as passing a joint, will remain a felony
, even a single plant, will remain as illegal as
before. This is far from legalization.
• The regulation and taxation system -- if not the entire initiative -- will be rendered invalid by the federal government.
initiative forces the state to license businesses for, and collect
taxes from, a substance that is a schedule 1 drug under both federal and
state law. This directly conflicts with our Federal Controlled Substances Act
, and our State's Uniform Controlled Substances Act
which will give the federal government complete legal authority to take
it to federal court, and quickly preempt it. This will effectively take
down either the entire initiative, or the specific parts that conflict
with these acts -- the distribution, regulation, and taxation system.
Ultimately, no tax revenue would be produced from the proposed retail
- Beyond the fact that it's federally preemptable, the regulation system is outlandish.
hands complete control to the Washington State Liquor Control Board
(WSLCB). They will control the THC in the cannabis sold, as well as the
maximum number of retail outlets per county (New Section. Sec. 10., Pages 18-21
licensing system will lead to individuals spending years, even decades,
in federal prison, despite the fact that those individuals will be
following state law. Initiative 502 will force all business license
applicants, whether growing or selling, to submit their fingerprints,
along with the address of the location where they plan to grow or sell,
to the FBI (New Section. Sec. 8., page 16
). This is clearly criminal entrapment
• Initiative 502 mandates a new DUID law that will result in prosecution of the innocent. Supporters
of this measure argue that they have the science and technology to
justify the limit as appropriate, but this is entirely untrue. In fact,
just last year, Colorado's Legislature tasked a workgroup to examine the
science surrounding the exact 5ng/ml THC limit that Initiative 502 sets
up. The workgroup came to the conclusion not to recommend the limit,
based primarily on a lack of science, and the potential for prosecuting
innocent people. Colorado has rejected the limit, three times.
our own state, Representative Roger Goodman introduced an even higher
8ng/ml limit for THC last year. It didn't take long for him to revoke
it. His reasoning was simple: in addition to lacking legislative
support, the public objected vehemently, and he concluded after an
analysis that there was no science to back it.
truth is that the limit mandated in this initiative has no basis in
science, and it is not fair policy. Patients and casual consumers will
fail this test and be prosecuted for a life-altering DUID long after
they're impaired (a DUID is a harsher sentence than possession of an
ounce). Reports have consistently shown this to be true. Even worse,
the per se policy in Initiative 502 would include conclusive
presumption, meaning you literally lose your right to defend yourself in
court against allegations of impairment.
This is bad policy.
- Initiative 502 completely ignores, and endangers young adults.
It mandates a zero-tolerance driving policy for those under 21 (Sec. 31., Page 46
This is unethical policy, and will lead to prosecution of those aged
16-21 simply for having consumed cannabis days or even weeks before
(this zero tolerance policy is the only provision of the initiative that
alters current law for those under 21). A DUID on a person's record can
affect their lives forever. This limit appears to ignore the fact that
individuals aged 18-21 are allowed under state law to use
doctor-recommended medical cannabis
. No one should ever drive impaired,
regardless of the substance, but zero-tolerance driving policies are
never related to impairment.
• Initiative 502 could end up increasing the black market. The
initiative allows for possession of an ounce of dried cannabis, but
retains the illegality of growing even a single plant. Beyond this,
federal preemption will stop any legal retail outlet from opening or
being licensed. That stated, we are left with a scenario that forces
individuals to the same black market we're trying to defeat in order to
purchase their legal ounce. This is not the way to reform our cannabis
polices, or stop the dangerous consequences of prohibition.
• Initiative 502 will set a negative precedent for the rest of the country.
this initiative passes, it's very likely that other efforts across the
nation will follow a similarly faulty template -- including the per se
DUID policy that reform groups have fought against for decades, and
which continues to be one of our Drug Czar's top national policies.
Those who support cannabis law reform need to get behind efforts such
as Colorado's Amendment 64
, and Oregon's Measure 80
and reject such faulty reform as Initiative 502. We cannot risk
supporting a dangerous policy to achieve a potential political victory
that's likely to backfire, for the reasons mentioned below.
• Initiative 502 will instill complacency, and meaningful reform will be pushed back for years. If
I-502 passes, many people will be fooled into thinking that they just
"legalized" cannabis. The misperception and the resulting dismay could
stop voters and our elected officials from supporting meaningful reform,
or legal alterations, in the near future.
addition, the average voter, who may not understand the intricacies of
the issue, may see the new policy as "legalization failing" when this
initiative doesn't produce the promised benefits, when in reality it
will have failed because of its massive legal faults.
is likely that the most dangerous provision, the per se DUID limit,
will stay in place for decades, since "drugged driving" laws are
essentially never reduced (Consider this: A bill
by one of I-502's primary sponsors to protect patients retroactively
from the limit failed to even make it out of committee earlier this
• In conclusion, it is our position
that the negative consequences of Initiative 502 outweigh any potential
benefits. We encourage everyone to read the initiative and decide for
As an organization,
we urge you to vote No. We're simply not willing to implement dangerous
new policies in exchange for faulty reform disguised as legalization.