Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Proposed initiative to legalize pot

The proposed I-1068 would make this illegal act above not a criminal act
providing the person is over 18 years old.

The statewide legalization of marijuana is the subject of a proposed
initiative in Washington state that, if the necessary requirements are
met, will be on the ballot in November.

As read from the initiative itself, "This measure would remove state
civil and criminal penalties for persons 18 years or older who
cultivate, possess, transport, sell, or use marijuana. Restrictions and
penalties for persons under 18 would be retained."

Initiative 1068 is officially sponsored by the group Sensible Washington
and was co-authored by Seattle attorneys Doug Hiatt and Jeffrey
Steinborn, Vivian McPeak, founder of Seattle's Hempfest, Ric Smith,
Cannabis Defense Coalition spokesman and former Seattle Weekly
contributor Philip Dawdy, who also serves as the movement's campaign

"We waste about $100 million a year enforcing outdated marijuana
laws," Dawdy said. "Considering the harmlessness of the
substance we're talking about, the state is really wasting a lot of

Dawdy stated that if passed into law, I-1068 would also allow farmers to
grow hemp and would clean up medical marijuana laws, which he believes
"are a disaster."

In order for this initiative to be on the ballot in November, a
statutory requirement of 241,153 signatures from citizens who are
registered to vote by July 2 is needed, though Sensible Washington has
set a goal of approximately 320,000 signatures to make up for invalid

"My boss has not authorized me to give the exact number of
signatures we have, but I can tell you we're about one-third of the
way there," said Dawdy. "We're positioned right where we
want to be; most signatures come in June."

Not all Washington citizens support the initiative, including Lisa
Romwall, treatment director at the Kitsap Recovery Center and adjunct
faculty member at Olympic College.

"You have to consider that I've been treating marijuana
addiction for 35 years now, and it is the third most abused drug we see
here at the recovery center," she said. "I just don't see
any upside in making marijuana legal in terms of helping people with
life skills."

Romwall said there is evidence to suggest that the use of marijuana can
negatively affect the autoimmune system, and that it can cause
fibromyalgia, in addition to other long-term physical effects.

"People just don't realize that it is more of an addictive drug
than is commonly perceived," Romwall said. "And I think it is
more complex a drug than users want to believe."

Romwall clarified that although she is opposed to the legalization of
marijuana, she does not oppose the decriminalization of it.

"I don't think marijuana users should go to jail," she said.
"They just need treatment."

Dawdy said he is confident that if Sensible Washington is able to garner
the necessary signatures, I-1068 will be voted into law.

"I've seen countless individuals who support this," he said.
"And to those who claim that it is a overly harmful for you, I
challenge you to read the scientific literature."

The question now is not if the bill will pass, but if Sensible
Washington can get their goal of 320,000 signatures, though Dawdy is
also confident that this too is possible.

"The people are looking at these outdated laws and they know that
it's time to make a change," he said.

Those who support I-1068 can visit Sensible Washington's website,
http://sensiblewashington.org and find a list of local businesses that
have the initiative available to sign including Pied Pipers Emporium in

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