Put down the bong for just one fucking second, because Washington State voters are approving the legalization of marijuana by a 55–45 percent margin, according to Tuesday night’s latest results from election workers. More election results will trickle in over the next two weeks, but by all accounts, MARIJUANA IS LEGAL.
First, this means that adults 21 and older can legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana starting on December 6. Holy shit, right? Don’t smoke it in public, though. The law also requires the state to license pot growers, distributors, and stores. That part may be challenged by the federal government—but nobody knows for sure.
Colorado voters also just approved pot legalization with Amendment 64 by an eight-point margin.
But in Seattle, the night started out with plenty of skepticism.
It was 8:23 p.m. when Alison Holcomb, the campaign director for Washington’s Initiative 502, first stepped up to the microphone, and she wasn’t encouraging. The crowd assembled at Hotel Andra—a smart crowd stacked with lifelong pot activists and ACLU lawyers—shut the fuck up, fast.
Holcomb said, “At this point, we’re trailing,” Then: “Oh wait, never mind!” She’d been reading numbers for the state, minus King County. The crowd erupted in nervous laughter.
“You know what?” Holcomb said. “This is the point in the evening when I need a giant shot of tequila.”
While the crowd hardly resembled your stereotypical T-shirted, tattooed, tie-dyed stoners, the banquet spread was a snacker’s paradise of fried cheese and chicken kabobs, cucumber salads, and grilled pita.
People were already talking about next steps—how to tweak the Washington State Liquor Control Board into being the government mechanism to effectively end marijuana prohibition, which state politicians we can expect to step up and lead on implementing the new law, what the Feds will do (“They can invade us, they can sue us, they can ignore us,” one gentleman, whose tattoos discreetly peeked out from under his cuffs, ticked off on his fingers). While they talked, phones and iPads were obsessively refreshed, waiting for those all-important King County numbers.
Suddenly, Holcomb returned to the mic. “We’ve got 62 percent of King County,” she screamed, before the rest of her words were drowned out. Everyone was cheering. Fists were in the air! Eyes were shiny with tears! “I’ve been working for this moment every day for 40 years,” said one activist, who’d traveled up from California to be in Seattle on election night.
“I am so proud, so humbled to stand among the voters of the great state of Washington who have on this day taken a historic vote,” Holcomb said in her victory speech. “Ultimately, I’m most proud that despite controversy and uncertainty, Washington State exhibited tremendous leadership in reexamining a failed policy. Today, the state of Washington looked at 75 years of prohibition and said, ‘It is time for a new approach.’”