It's Not About the Stoners

People Will Give You a Lot of Reasons to Vote to Legalize Pot on November 6, but You're Not Going to Hear Much About the One That Matters Most

It's Not About the Stoners

Jack Hornady

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I grew up near the edge of the Central District, and our house was at the top of a ridge, which served as a sort of racial dividing line. Houses on the eastern slope had spectacular views of the mountains and Lake Washington. They were expensive and their residents were all white. I can't recall a single black person who lived on that side of the hill. On the other side of the ridge, the houses' territorial views looked back into the gulch. With only scattered exceptions, those were all African American households.

That was Seattle in the 1980s. Thanks to the cosmic fortunes of where my parents settled down, I lived in an intermediary zone, on one of the city's few truly racially integrated streets. My Catholic parochial school one block north had only one other white kid in the class, a freckled girl from a very Catholic brood. The rest were African American, Asian, and mixed race. We were taught about MLK, schooled in the civil rights movement, and informed weekly that we would overcome someday. It was great. The first time I recall being angry—the sort of anger that boils behind your eyes—was in elementary school, learning about racial segregation on Montgomery's buses. That was awful.

By the time I could vote, lots of my classmates had been stopped for drugs in the Central District. The Seattle Police Department had adopted the federal government's Weed and Seed strategy, which ostensibly "weeded out" drug abusers in the neighborhood and "seeded" it with revitalization programs. In practice, though, Seattle cops—just like police forces across the country—scoured the inner city to make a frenzy of arrests, justified by a national hysteria over the crack epidemic. (Crack, it must be stated here, is a form of cocaine more popular with black people, but the difference from the powder cocaine more popular with whites is largely superficial.) The drug-war pandemonium in the 1980s and 1990s, as I witnessed it, amounted to cops stopping young black people on the street, shaking them down for crack or weapons, and busting them for the most likely contraband they could find: pot.

The white kids smoked pot, too, of course. They used it in the open, sold it, took acid, sold acid, gobbled ecstasy. What happened to them? Nothing. Not one damn thing happened to the white kids. I know because I was one of them, and when the cops came to my house for a 911 call while several of us were obviously tripping on LSD, none of us got busted. We didn't even get searched.

Somehow, in a neighborhood that elevated the civil rights movement's leaders to the stratum of prophets, the community watched drug laws play out as an informal—but tolerated, because it was considered necessary—proxy for the double standards of justice applied to African Americans for centuries. To me, this was worse than someone being sent to the back of a bus; these young black guys were being sent to jail and prison, while white kids got off scot-free.

It's been well documented how prison populations ballooned. The inmate population in the United States quadrupled from a half million people in 1980 to two million by 2000. The number of people imprisoned for drugs increased twelvefold in that time, federal statistics show. Half of all prison inmates were black as of the late 1990s, even though black people were only 13 percent of the country's population.

As you probably know, drug laws were created to ensnare racial minorities (the fact that we use the word "marihuana" results from a federal campaign to criminalize cannabis in 1937 by associating it with Mexicans). Michelle Alexander made an academic case in her 2010 book, The New Jim Crow, that the modern drug war created an underclass of citizens by dishing out millions of criminal records that make it difficult to vote, get a job, rent a home, receive student loans, and so on. "There are more African Americans under correctional control today—in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began," Alexander wrote in a recent article for Huffington Post. This explosive prison growth is attributed to several factors and various drugs, of course, but pot is the most popular illicit drug, accounting for more than half of all drug arrests, and it's the drug that most Americans are ready to change the laws for.

But the way we enforce pot laws in Washington State has remained horrific.

Three New York–area academics released a report on October 11 called "240,000 Marijuana Arrests: Costs, Consequences, and Racial Disparities of Possession Arrests in Washington, 1986–2010," finding that blacks in Washington State smoke less pot than white people—I repeat, they use less pot than white people—yet are arrested at 2.9 times the rate of white people. In this state, the pot possession arrest rate nearly tripled from 4,000 in 1986 to 11,000 in 2010, meaning the rate of pot busts has outpaced state population growth sixfold.

Now that Initiative 502 is on the November ballot to legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, you may not hear those stats much. But for me, at least, this initiative is about race and civil rights more than it's about personal liberty or helping the economy. Some people may be incensed that a white guy like me would have the audacity to claim racial justice as his reason to take a stand. But you know what? I've been pissed about this for 20 years. I don't claim to speak for anyone but myself, and I don't have to.

Although condemnation of pot laws was essentially unheard of from African American leaders 30 years ago, the NAACP's Alaska, Oregon, and Washington State–Area Conference decried the racial disparities in drug enforcement and endorsed I-502 in August. Three local black church leaders have also endorsed the initiative: Reverend Leslie Braxton of New Beginnings Christian Fellowship, Reverend Carl Livingston of Kingdom Christian Center, and Reverend Steve E. Baber of Skyway United Methodist Church. "It's no longer enough to say the war on drugs has been a failure," Braxton announced. "We have to recognize that it has done damage, especially to black Americans, and we have to change course. Marijuana law enforcement has become a pretext for pushing people into the criminal justice system where they get branded with criminal records that turn them into second-class citizens facing additional barriers to education and employment."

This particular initiative, which some people think is about stoners, is only incidentally about pot. Chances are, you don't care about pot and probably don't smoke it. If you do smoke it and you're white, chances are you don't care about the laws because the laws aren't a problem for you—you're not going to get busted for marijuana. Especially in Seattle. But if you're black or Latino, well, that's another story. Pot laws are used as an excuse to bust racial minorities. This is a civil rights issue—full stop. It's part of the same civil rights march that's been inching forward for centuries. Unlike the rest of the civil rights movement, this issue has made no traction at the federal level in more than 70 years.

For me, voting yes on I-502 is the most crucial—and imminently achievable—vote to improve racial and social justice of my lifetime.

I became a pot activist when I was 17 years old. And I had smoked it, of course—lots of it—but that's not the reason I became a pot activist. In fact, by the time I was 25 and running the campaign for I-75, a city initiative to make possession the city's lowest enforcement priority, I didn't smoke it anymore. Reporters interviewing me for stories that appeared in this paper, in daily papers, on radio stations... they could not believe this fact. Why would anybody who doesn't smoke pot want to legalize marijuana?

I wanted to explain. I wanted to print the statistics about the disparity of marijuana arrests on all of our glossy mailers. I wanted to say that African Americans made up only 8.5 percent of the city's population but 35 percent of the city's pot possession busts—and isn't that fucking intolerable? And isn't that reason enough to change the law? For a time, we did run that message on a pamphlet (without the "fucking intolerable" part).

But then something happened. We got back the results of a poll of likely voters that we'd paid $14,000 to conduct. In a conference room at the ACLU offices at Second and Cherry, initiative cosponsor Ben Livingston and I sat across from a bunch of muckety-mucks. One of them had a question for us. "Do you want to win?" asked veteran campaign consultant Blair Butterworth. Or did we want to run a campaign about all the principles we had, about people's right to do with their body as they choose, about racial disparities, about cops shaking down black men looking for a dime bag? Because we could run that campaign, if we wanted. But that campaign probably wouldn't win. The polling was clear: Those aren't the messages that convince voters to relax the rules for pot. Nobody made us do anything we didn't want to do, but we wanted to win, so we mostly shut up about that race stuff.

"I-75 frees our police and prosecutors from enforcing marijuana laws so they can concentrate on protecting our communities from serious and violent crime."

I can't tell you how many times I said that sentence. To the media, on our mailers, at community meetings, we said it so much that in the final weeks of the I-75 campaign, an elderly woman on the bus who had no idea who I was spontaneously recited those words to me—verbatim—as her reason for supporting the initiative. It was a winner. Fifty-eight percent of voters approved I-75 in September 2003. After it passed, pot arrests dropped sharply in the first couple years, and, although the racial disparities for arrests remained high, the number of pot busts for black and white people declined. Then it got much better: Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes vanquished his anti-pot predecessor, Tom Carr, in 2009, and he's refused to prosecute a single marijuana possession case in Seattle since.

Although I'm proud of what we did, I-75 was a meager law. All it did on paper was make pot the lowest "priority," which is the sort of ambiguous directive that cops could ignore (and sometimes did ignore and continue to ignore—they can still arrest you for pot, knowing full well that the city attorney probably won't pursue it). On the other hand, it was a net gain because prosecutions stopped, and other cities like Oakland and San Francisco have since replicated that success. Even so, when we ran the initiative, lots of people insisted it was a bad idea.

Have you heard of concern trolls? They're typically internet commenters, but they could be anyone who attempts to undermine your argument by pretending to share your goal but disagrees with your strategy. They say your method will have unintended ramifications. We heard from a lot of concern trolls when we ran I-75—particularly from pot activists who said it didn't go far enough, it wouldn't pass, or our messaging was tailored too much to soccer moms. I agreed with them, kinda. But you should always ignore concern trolls.

Part of the reason pot politics are so fucking boring is because it feels like pot will stay illegal forever. You probably started talking with friends about why legalizing pot makes sense when you were like 14, and look—it's still illegal. Meanwhile, pot activists remain quixotic caricatures. Partly, that's how the press portrays them, sure. But partly it's because pot activists have been too uncompromising to win over Middle America (saying weed should grow in your backyard like roses!), and their campaigns are too amateurish to affect prime-time policy change. For example, we've been confronted at festivals for the last several summers with petitions to legalize pot, but those measures never show up on your ballot (until I-502 this year, which is run by pros). Hempfest attracts growing numbers, but the organizers are intent on keeping it culturally insular. Meanwhile, medical marijuana dispensaries get busted up and down the West Coast, contributing to this sense that federal raids negate every step in the right direction. Pot politics would seem a lot more exciting if, you know, Team Legalize would rack up some wins.

So, to go back to I-75, we ignored the concern trolls because we wanted to actually win.

And by winning, I-75 did more than just reduce pot busts. It helped put Seattle on record as a marijuana-friendly city. Just like San Franciscans can't be homophobic in their wonderfully gay-ass city, Seattleites can't be opposed to pot legalization when every elected official at city hall and member of the city's legislative delegation has gone on record supporting legal marijuana. That has shifted the region's identity, and it sets up I-502 to be the next win.

I-502 would work like this: (1) It would allow adults to possess up to an ounce of smokable marijuana, 16 ounces of solid-form marijuana cooked into food, and 72 ounces of cannabis infused into liquids; (2) it would then require the state to license pot farmers, pot distributors, and stores that sell those aforementioned cannabis products to folks 21 and over. In doing so, it would create a complete farm-to-joint legalization of marijuana that copies the same model we use to make, tax, and regulate alcohol.

I don't want to belabor this point, but HOLY FUCKING SHIT. No state has ever revolted against federal drug laws like this. If Washington passes this thing, we'll punch prohibition in the dick. Starting in December, we'd start nixing the roughly 10,000 possession arrests per year in this state.

The initiative's prime sponsor is former US Attorney John McKay, who's taken to the airwaves with millions of dollars of commercials to make his case along with former FBI bureau chief Charlie Mandigo, explaining that I-502 would free police and prosecutors to focus on violent and serious crime (that message voters love). Polls as recently as this week show I-502 has a very good shot: The UW's Washington Poll puts it at 51 percent support, SurveyUSA at 56 percent, and Strategies 360 at 55 percent, with many voters still undecided.

I'm not inside the campaign, which is called New Approach Washington, so I don't know what the polling looks like for effective messages. But the ads don't talk about race; that issue is mostly relegated to a three-point fact sheet buried on the website, upstaged by the messages about redirecting our police priorities and weakening cartels. But there's something for everyone. Legalizing pot would save law-enforcement resources, raise tax revenue, protect medical marijuana patients from arrests, remove a tool used to bust racial minorities, and more.

Still, the concern trolls keep trolling.

Last week, I was on the phone with John Walters, who was George W. Bush's drug czar and who was conducting a conference call for reporters with former law-enforcement types. The stated goal was sending a message to the Obama Administration that they must vocally oppose I-502, in addition to pot initiatives in Colorado and Oregon, just as the Feds have done to previous pot initiatives.

Getting the White House to speak up—which Walters did twice in his efforts to stymie I-75—"would defeat these measures," Walters said.

Here's what was so bizarre: The leading argument at the top of the conference call was to say that these initiatives wouldn't actually legalize marijuana.

"Federal law, the US Constitution, and the US Supreme Court decisions say that this cannot be done because federal law preempts state law," said Peter Bensinger, former DEA administrator. This was some serious concern trolling. Consider the argument here: Don't legalize marijuana because, if you do, marijuana still won't be legal enough. Really? If you're so concerned that a popular vote on this issue is moot, then why are you staging a three-ring political circus asking the federal government to campaign to "defeat these measures"?

By definition, concern trolls aren't actually concerned that you'll fail—they're concerned that you'll win. And the drug czars and DEA chiefs, who also opposed medical marijuana that passed in 17 states, are now concerned I-502 will make Washington the first state to legalize marijuana for all adults. That would lead to more states legalizing pot and pot stores around the country. After all, medical marijuana dispensaries are proliferating fearlessly. Are they legal under federal law? No. Does that stop them? Nope. (The handful of federal raids generally only target the largest, sketchiest dispensaries.) These concern trolls are concerned that just like medical marijuana—which is 100 percent illegal by federal standards—recreational marijuana is going to become normal in America.

The truth is, federal officials don't have the resources or the jurisdiction to bust people for marijuana possession. It's just not what the DEA or federal courts do. If I-502 passes, it will strike down the state penalty for pot possession, and there isn't a single fucking thing the Feds can do to stop it—they can't preempt that portion of the initiative.

On the other hand, the US Department of Justice can—and probably will, if I-502 passes—attempt to challenge Washington's proposal to regulate the pot industry. They will likely challenge it in US District Court, and the case of United States v. State of Washington will be appealed and appealed until it reaches the Supreme Court.

Guess what?

That's the fucking point.

Let's have a national discussion about pot legalization, and let's have it be a discussion about a well-thought-out model for regulation that emulates the rigors of alcohol regulations. That battle is strategic, it's overdue, and it's the goal. And in the meantime, the new state law allowing people to possess marijuana will be what's enforced locally. So we have our cake and eat it, too.

A young woman who I met at a party last Friday didn't know how she would vote on I-502. She supported legalizing marijuana, she said, but wondered why, then, medical marijuana activists and some Hempfest organizers opposed it. I've explained this in detail in a long, long story in March—it's called "Pot Activists vs. Pot Activists," and you should go read it for more information on what I'm about to summarize—but since it's October and we're voting in three weeks, it bears repeating. Briefly.

The medical marijuana industry and certain pot activists (who, remember, have a track record of running initiatives that don't even make the ballot) want the perfect initiative: They want pot grown at home, they want no taxes on it, they want zero threat of federal intervention, and they want no penalties for driving stoned. Being a grown adult who wants all that is like being a child who wants a pony.

I-502 was tailored specifically to pass in November, so it contains regulations that copy regulations for alcohol. The folks who oppose it complain that I-502 would impose 25 percent excise taxes at each stage of production, thereby raising the cost of pot. They are concerned that the provisions allowing for farmers and stores will be overturned. But their biggest gripe is a provision about driving while stoned. At Hempfest, a petitioner working for a competing pot initiative told the throngs to oppose I-502 because "If cops pull you over and you have any THC in your blood, you can go to jail." He said that you'll get a DUI a week after getting high.

That's not true. Here's a summary of how the initiative works: It contains a provision for adults 21 and over that says if they're driving with more than five nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood, they are automatically guilty of DUI. Of the handful of available scientific studies, not one shows even the heaviest pot user above that level the next day. In other words, the science proves that opponents' claims about pot DUIs the next day are wrong. When they say adults will get busted for DUI the next day, they are lying to you. Science shows that most people are below the five-nanogram level within a few hours, and it also shows that people who are above that level are more dangerous drivers. (As a caveat: The initiative also would not allow anyone under 21 to drive with active THC in their system, which is consistent with current law. As it stands now, all drivers can be and are convicted for any THC in their system while driving, so the initiative would actually be more progressive than current law for adults 21 and over.) But this isn't about adults getting busted while driving sober; the people who latch onto the DUI issue are fighting for their right to drive high.

As for taxes on pot, the teabaggers need to get over it.

As for medical marijuana patients, I-502 would finally protect them from being arrested for possession. I-502 doesn't change the state's Medical Use of Marijuana Act, passed in 1998, but that law doesn't protect patients from arrest for possession. It only gives them a defense in court. The only thing I-502 might hurt is the bottom line of the people who currently make money off of medical marijuana patients.

And, finally, while I-502 will face a federal challenge, again, the possession part can't be challenged, and that would eliminate roughly 10,000 arrests in Washington per year.

I-502's loudest critics are concern trolls. Moreover, they're concern trolls who have got theirs—folks who aren't going to get busted because they're largely white, authorized as medical marijuana patients, or wealthy from the medical marijuana market—and have little to gain by passing the initiative. Despite being a monumental leap for civil rights, they quibble, I-502 isn't ideal. But I-502 shouldn't be compared to the ideal law; it should be compared to prohibition, which is the only alternative we've got right now.

To the extent that people dislike compromises in I-502, I get that. Personally, I don't like the per se cutoff for driving, which says that you are automatically guilty of a DUI if the active THC in your blood is above the five-nanogram level; I think prosecutors should have to prove impairment. But per se cutoffs are the standard that we already have for alcohol, and like it or not, it's the same model we're going to see for marijuana. The reason those strict DUI provisions are in there is to help get this thing passed. Attacks focusing on stoned driving have played a big role in defeating other pot initiatives, such as Proposition 19 in California. A poll last year by Quinlan Rosner Research found that the DUI provision alone prompted 62 percent of voters to say that they were more likely to support I-502, and only 11 percent said it would make them less likely to support the initiative. Same goes for home growing; voters don't support it.

So I'm sorry, medical marijuana profiteers and Hempfest organizers, but legalization is going to come with big-kid, all-grown-up-now rules. That means rules for DUI, licenses for growers, taxes, and all that stuff that comes with regulating an agricultural commodity. Now that the movement has finally made it to the big time, it's the folks who've prospered under prohibition who are now whining that they like the old rules better. Of course they do: They're making money hand over goddamn fist under the old system. They'll always come up with a complaint. If another initiative comes around, they'll have complaints about that one, too.

And true, I-502 isn't everything. It won't single-handedly crush cartels, save the state budget, or end racial profiling in this country.

But America always takes small steps—every time with concern trolls nipping at the heels of progress. If we take this plunge on pot, yeah, there will be a federal challenge. But look at all the progress made on gay marriage even though the federal Defense of Marriage Act has been in place. There is a federal case for same-sex marriage now winding through the court systems toward the US Supreme Court. In the years that it's been in federal courts, gay marriage has gone from having minority public support to seeing a majority of Americans—including the sitting president—supporting it. A majority of people believing in marriage equality has become the national status quo, not despite a national challenge instigated by the states, but because of a national challenge instigated by the states.

If our idiotic drug war is going to rise to the same level of exposure, it will be because states force the issue. And that requires a state boldly defying federal law, former drug czars, the medical-pot profiteers, the fears that we'll never win, and centuries of racism that the drug war's been steeped in. That means passing I-502. recommended


Comments (87) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Out of the approx. 10,000 annual Cannabis arrests in Washington over 40% are people under the age 21. These people will continue to be arrested if I-502 passes. Under I-502 some of these people who would have previously avoided arrest by not having any Cannabis on them could be arrested for the content of their blood. This will also apply to some people over 21. Additionally many of these arrests involve quantities over an ounce - which will also still be illegal under I-502. Beyond this, if you look at Nevada where they instituted a strict 'per se' DUI law for Cannabis, there were 4,000 more DUID arrests than in the previous year without the 'per se' amount.

Given that Washington State has a population of over twice that of Nevada, it is reasonably possible that Cannabis related arrests will not go down. They could potentially increase.
Posted by anonymouslyconcernedyoudontdrive on October 24, 2012 at 9:07 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 2
It's a pretty good article, but I think you risk alienating the concern troll vote by attacking them like that.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on October 24, 2012 at 9:12 AM · Report this
treacle 3
1, That's a chance I'm willing to take.
Posted by treacle on October 24, 2012 at 9:43 AM · Report this
kitschnsync 4
Wonderful piece, Dominic. I-502 has tremendous implications for social justice, and it's sad that people don't seem to be talking about it.
Posted by kitschnsync on October 24, 2012 at 10:37 AM · Report this
@1: Are you going to white knight for the underage drinkers too?
Posted by suddenlyorcas on October 24, 2012 at 10:54 AM · Report this
the fact that we use the word "marihuana" results from a federal campaign to criminalize cannabis in 1937 by associating it with Mexicans

You need to tell that to the stoner who uses that spelling every time he talks up weed in the comment sections of the Seattle Times. Anyway, I've cast my ballot already, and I voted against I-502. If it's defeated, I hope someone will introduce a proposition to repeal medical marijuana.

Posted by Mister G on October 24, 2012 at 11:06 AM · Report this
I didn't feel like reading all that. My yes vote is simply so I can have easy access to some bud. It's the most important thing to me.
Posted by Cletus on October 24, 2012 at 11:16 AM · Report this
Being a Libertarian I oppose the tax on cannabis as planned for in I-205. However I am not a teabagger, or tea party members. I have not yet figured out how to use force, which is what a tax is, to build a civil society based on respect for others. If you can explain that to me I will gladly listen.

I also am a former member of the U.S. Coast Guard and realize that one of the rationales for the War on Drugs was to get new equipment and for something else to do for that branch of the government.

My main concern was developed over the years in conversation with a couple of cops I have known and that issue is not even addressed in this initiative.

I want to stop arresting everybody and anybody for using. One of the worse aspects of this prohibition is the number of younger people especially those who are male, poor and frequently a minority who get arrested and tossed into the so called juvenile justice system. Too often that system is just a trade school for developing petty criminals who will then spend the rest of their lives cycling in and out of the system. Then the only ones who benefit are the cops, the lawyers, judges and the correction employees.
Posted by Evergreen Libertarian on October 24, 2012 at 12:01 PM · Report this
Auragasm 9
Hypothetical questions:

Could a medical patient authorized to grow share his or her cannabis with a non-patient spouse once it's legalized?
What will we do about employers who terminate workers who test positive for THC?

I'm really torn about this law. I'm Latino and I want cops to reprioritize across the state. But surely we are just inviting a DEA crackdown. I feel like simple decriminalization would do the trick without opening pot stores.

Concerned yeah, trolling no. I get responses like "HAHA, the fed has you scared!" and when I say we should have the administration's open support I hear "Go suck Obama's dick! Stick it to the man! Whoo!" Right back atcha, Dom.

We don't even get to open spiffy pot lounges, what's up with that?!
Posted by Auragasm on October 24, 2012 at 12:25 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 10
Hypothetical question: If i want to drive stoned, just because I'm a selfish medical patient, why won't you let me reenact Cheech & Chong and get in fun accidents?

oh, wait, sorry.

it's time to stop wasting our tax dollars to fund the prison industry and provide them with cheap African-American labor at 47 cents an hour pay rates.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on October 24, 2012 at 12:35 PM · Report this
This Info Brief from the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington may be of interest to anyone who is still undecided: http://adai.uw.edu/pubs/infobriefs/ADAI-…

It provides links to a variety of resources, including this report from Harry Levine, PhD at City Univ of NY, which looks at arrest statistics for marijuana possession in our state and the very racial disparities Dominic addresses in his article above: http://www.marijuana-arrests.com/docs/24…
Posted by Meg on October 24, 2012 at 12:53 PM · Report this
Fnarf 12
Great article, Dom. It won't change too many minds, because the minds that are against you are most cast in concrete -- or they're flat-out crooks, looking to protect their shady "medical marijuana" businesses by keeping it illegal in every other form.

The saddest thing to see is every one of the worst, stupidest cliches about stoners and their manner of speech and thought coming out of the woodwork.

I voted yes, and I have nothing but contempt for no voters of any persuasion.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on October 24, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Report this
wilbur@work 13
Great job, Dominic. Looking forward to the mountain of dumb replies from concern trolls.
Posted by wilbur@work on October 24, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 14
Great piece, Dominic.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on October 24, 2012 at 12:56 PM · Report this
wilbur@work 15
11 -- state your case, or stop taking up space.

hey, that rhymes!
Posted by wilbur@work on October 24, 2012 at 1:00 PM · Report this
Bravo. Great piece Dom.
Posted by gnossos on October 24, 2012 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Legalizing pot is just going to put the black dealers out of business and if you think they'll move on to a legal job, I have a house in the CD I'd love to sell you for $1,000,000.
Posted by Sugartit on October 24, 2012 at 1:32 PM · Report this
The issue that I have here is that legalizing marijuana won't address the social justice concerns you're espousing. Cops will find another way to profile African Americans, Latinos, and other under-privileged groups/neighborhoods. I'm not buying the "stop the racism by voting for pot" line.

@3, 5: brushing off a suggestion that this will actually cost our broke-ass state more money than it will make is what got us in budget shortfalls for 2008-2011 (and probably beyond) in the first place.
Posted by I come anon. on October 24, 2012 at 1:32 PM · Report this
*Could a medical patient authorized to grow share his or her cannabis with a non-patient spouse once it's legalized?
-As long as the spouse does not exceed the amount of cannabis products stated in the initiative, s/he will be safe from arrest. As for the transfer itself, I'm not exactly sure, but if this is a spousal situation there are added protections regarding incrimination.

*What will we do about employers who terminate workers who test positive for THC?
-Employers can keep whatever rules they have in place regarding testing. No legal protections, though I suppose a judicial claim could be made, if the test was positive for THC metabolites but not active THC, since that is what the law would consider as intoxicated... But IANAL.
Posted by Ermine on October 24, 2012 at 1:32 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 20
@9 The simple answer to your question would be that we'd all love to ride purple unicorns, but it's not going to happen.

For a more thoughtful answer, here is a great article for you to read:
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on October 24, 2012 at 1:40 PM · Report this
@15 -- Get yer own opinion!
Posted by Meg on October 24, 2012 at 1:56 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 22
@1 "These people will continue to be arrested if I-502 passes."

Arrested by whom and for what violation? Seattle or Kent or Spokane police will have no more local, county, or state enforcement for having less than an ounce found on someone.

Did I miss something where SPD does Federal level enforcement now? What next? SPD raids your house for torrenting the latest episode of an HBO show for a Federal copyright violation? If I sell a counterfeit Gucci bag will SPD bust me for trademark violations and violation of international trade treaties with Italy?

Give me a break.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi http://www.zombo.com on October 24, 2012 at 1:58 PM · Report this
Banned on The Seattle Times 23
Tellin' it like it is. Thanks Dom.
Posted by Banned on The Seattle Times on October 24, 2012 at 2:13 PM · Report this
@8 "Being a Libertarian I oppose the tax on cannabis as planned for in I-205."

Really? I thought that being a Libertarian you were against all taxation as a general rule. It seems odd that this specific tax is the indignity up with which you shall not put!

@8 "My main concern was developed over the years in conversation with a couple of cops I have known and that issue is not even addressed in this initiative."

It is not clear what you're going with here. Are you referencing the paragraph above, where as a Libertarian you were against giving law enforcement more gear and more things to do or were you referencing the one below, where you espoused the confused idea that legalization for those over 21 would not stop arrests or that failing to change the status for minors is somehow so bad that you should vote against something with which you agree?
Posted by Concerned Parent For I-502 on October 24, 2012 at 2:18 PM · Report this
psbirch 25
Thanks for the article, Dom. You and the Stranger convinced me to vote Yes on 502 a while ago, but this is a solid encapsulation of reasons for decriminalization that I'll be forwarding on to friends and family in other states, who'll hopefully keep it in mind when similar measures eventually appear on their ballots.
Posted by psbirch on October 24, 2012 at 2:31 PM · Report this
Great piece. Thank you for calling out the racial disparities in the war on drugs.
Posted by Oscar M http://oscarmcnary.wordpress.com/ on October 24, 2012 at 2:35 PM · Report this
The feds can't keep up now with the mushrooming dispensary trade. When 502 passes every convenience store in town will sell the stuff, and they won't have the resources to stop it. Preemption schmemption.
Posted by drinkup on October 24, 2012 at 2:35 PM · Report this
Great article! It would carry more oomph if you pulled out some of the profanity and refrained from using phrases like "punch in the dick!"

Food for thought...
Posted by SDG on October 24, 2012 at 2:42 PM · Report this
I voted to legalize, but I just wanted to chime in that Seattle is a pretty gay-ass city itself. Don't give San Francisco all the credit!

Also man, if they legalize it, can they develop a form of it that doesn't smell? Literally the only issue I've got with stoners is that they come on the city buses and smell like rotten ass.
Posted by Snarfle on October 24, 2012 at 2:58 PM · Report this
Your a real piece of work Dom what about the Medical patients that need cannabis to drive? what about the ridiculous taxes it will bring? There will be no legal cannabis there are no legal shops going up and no legal cannabis being grown this is all a ploy to get a DUI law in effect for cannabis and give the state all the control they want. VOTE NO ON I-502!
Posted by Fuck You Dominic on October 24, 2012 at 3:01 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 31
Someone punch @28 in the dick please.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on October 24, 2012 at 3:14 PM · Report this
3rd paragraph, parenthetical sentence:
Posted by TerryS on October 24, 2012 at 3:15 PM · Report this
spaceapple 33
I voted yes. But you know what I wish? I wish someone would get the actual blood testing equipment that police will use when they pull people over, get stoned, test it, and blog about it.

That DUI concern is the biggest concern I hear among my stoner friends, and to be honest, I haven't heard a really satisfying answer. Yes, I know that currently the legal limit is 0, but when have you ever heard of someone being tested for pot? Never. But it's reasonable to think that if this passes, lots of stoners will find themselves being tested for weed, and they have no way of knowing themselves whether or not they would pass the test. No one has ever demonstrated how long you would have to wait for the "active" THC to be out of your body.
Posted by spaceapple on October 24, 2012 at 3:34 PM · Report this
The other big thing that no one talks about with 502 is that it will legalize growing hemp, which could be an even larger boost to the state economy than taxing pot...
Posted by JohnnyJumpUp on October 24, 2012 at 3:49 PM · Report this
I-502 exemplifies how incremental politics can win over the long run; no matter how small were the past victories, they were seen as stepping stones to the larger goal. And I'd love to see United States vs. State of Washington after I-502 passes.

That said, we must contrast the shrewd, farsighted struggle for cannabis legalization with Obamacare, which is an embarrassment, a top-down coddling of insurance corporations with a few scraps tossed at those who should be literally up in arms over our health care system. I'll take stoners and grassroots warriors over party politics any day of the year.
Posted by Che Guava on October 24, 2012 at 3:58 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 36
@33) Police don't conduct roadside blood tests, but people are currently busted for pot DUIs in Washington all the time. I wrote a long piece in March called Pot Activists vs. Pot Activists that discusses the DUI issues, including the science of active THC in the blood.
Posted by Dominic Holden on October 24, 2012 at 4:06 PM · Report this
chinaski 37
I voted yes on 502.
I do have some concern, though, that if it passes we will have shot ourselves in the foot.
At this moment, this city is better than amsterdam (for a pot head). The selection is huge and there is all kinds of innovation in medibles/topicals, etc. Prices are reasonable, and virtually anyone can get an authorization and possess "legally".
If 502 passes and the feds crackdown, the medical good old days will probably go down with the ship.

Posted by chinaski on October 24, 2012 at 4:08 PM · Report this
Not sure if it's been mentioned, but another reason the prison population ballooned was because Reagan shut down all of the mental hospitals. The impact of his policies cannot be understated in this situation.
Posted by ldean on October 24, 2012 at 4:29 PM · Report this
We should NEVER allow the debate to become more important than THE TRUTH.

"I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast"

- Ronald Reagan, U.S. President quote on Marijuana

"When I was a kid I inhaled frequently. That was the point."

- Barack Obama, U.S. President quote on Marijuana

"The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world."

- Carl Sagan quote on Marijuana

End the DEBATE.
Posted by NAMVET on October 24, 2012 at 5:13 PM · Report this
So, what are all the black dealers going to do when legalized and cheap weed hits the market? Become productive members of society?
Posted by Start pimping your daughters? on October 24, 2012 at 5:25 PM · Report this
@37: "At this moment, this city is better than amsterdam (for a pot head)."

Read the title of this article. Then read the article again. Pot heads are special cases, and when we're talking about changes that sweep broadly enough to reach the whole of the city, the specially-interested tail shouldn't wag the dog.

"The selection is huge and there is all kinds of innovation in medibles/topicals, etc."

Market forces will continue to drive innovation - money is money. There's no reason to suspect pot consumption will decrease as a result of changes in law.

"Prices are reasonable"

Prices will go up but what is a "reasonable" price for a luxury?

"[V]irtually anyone can get an authorization and possess "legally"."

Do you consider this good?

"If 502 passes and the feds crackdown, the medical good old days will probably go down with the ship."

People who pine for the good old days typically fail, in their distraction, to see the good in the new. But things will be different, regardless of how we choose to look at it. And even if some will be worse off, which I don't question, with the new laws many more will be better off.
Posted by ascarson on October 24, 2012 at 5:31 PM · Report this
I'm sure all the black kids you throw out of work with legal weed run (by white business people) will appreciate your benevolence.
Posted by Blunt Smoker on October 24, 2012 at 6:13 PM · Report this
spectacularj1 43
As soon as I saw the headline I knew that this was going to be reason that "mattered most". I hoped that it wouldn't be, but I was right.

I don't disagree, this is a good reason, but the most important? We don't live in Alabama, and the African American community in Seattle (and WA) is relatively tiny. There are plenty of people that get ensnared in the criminal justice system over pot that aren't black. Do you know what they are? Poor. That's the common denominator, you apparently can only see race, but you are blind to the real problem.

I did not grow up in the CD, I grew up in an area that was mostly white and asian. I asked the same questions, why do the cops target us and not the other kids? Because they came from wealthy families and drove expensive cars, that's why. Maybe Seattle has a racial dynamic that the rest of WA doesn't have, but problem here is one of the class, not race.

They do correlate heavily though in our criminal justice system, so I don't blame you for not noticing it.
Posted by spectacularj1 on October 24, 2012 at 6:47 PM · Report this
@27 no, not every corner store is going to be selling pot. Try reading the initiative. The state will authorize stores to sell as long as they are not too close to schools, parks, other places where minors congregate, ect.

This article is a good read. It did give me a few things to think about that hadnt occured to me before. However I am certain I will still be voting no. My primary concerns are 1 for my friends who currently make money selling it outside of the medical community. You know, the drug dealers who possess more than an ounce at a time and will not have the state sponsored stamp of approval. They are still at risk of being arrested and convicted. In fact, i believe they are more likely to face prosecution once the state has a financial investment to defend. But lets face it, the state stores will be closed by 10, what is the stoner who gets off work at 11 gonna do? Call the hippy down the street selling the California bud. Sure its not WA but its weed on demand.

I like the points about challenging federal law. What i dont like is the ability of corporate manipulation if WA wins 502 and the subsequent lawsuits. What i mean is the dna mapping, patent infringement suits to corporations who buy/discover dna rights to northern lights. I worry about 10 years drom now being a criminal for growing it at all -sorta like its a crime to grow tobacco- and regulated to be weaker but more addictive with added chemicals.

If it becomes legal, dont just take your victory and smoke it away. Agriculture is a big business in this country, and weed is bigger. Those corporate white guys cant wait to get their hands on it. Check out the patents already held just waiting for the chance to make it into pharmacutic pockets and bank accounts.

Currently I-502 protects against non WA corporations from any stage of production. It also says that no producer can be invested in any processor or retailer (or any mix up of that). But a WA corporation may get involved with the manufactue and sale as long as their investment is only on one level. Business has diminishing returns, and the small time grower over taxed and over fee-ed is a victim of dimishing returns, a rich corporation with no love may be a thriver over dimishing returns. Corporations also have unlimited spending power in elections... Fuels by marijuana money they will get whatever the want in the long run.

My problem isnt that I think marijuana should be illegal, but that there is so much more potential for abuse legal than illegal.

Finally, while the cops may not be able to bust people for simple possession, that isnt going to stop them from pulling people over for driving while black. Like the author said, there is only a handful of studies on the dui limits. On one hand UW could do some studies to provide for better DUI limits, on the other hand, officers could still harass blacks who are driving and pull the "suspicious behavior" card to perform a DUI test.
Posted by AshaBaby on October 24, 2012 at 9:09 PM · Report this
Thank you so much, Dominic! This is the best analysis I've read on the rationales for and against I-502 and I plan on sharing it far and wide. At its most basic level, this is a profoundly important civil rights issue. No amount of skirting, redirecting or "concern trolling" by entitled, illiterate stoners is going to change that.

Luckily, polling is suggesting that the majority of Washingtonians are behind this, even if they don't fully grasp the extent to which their vote in favor is a vote against institutional racism. I'm incredibly excited to see the results of this vote and -like many other people here- committed to challenging the bad parts of I-502 immediately after they become law. That is how political action works.
Posted by Dr.Devo on October 24, 2012 at 9:20 PM · Report this
Great article!
Posted by sweet g on October 25, 2012 at 7:50 AM · Report this
So you don't think police will use racial profiling when busting people for DUIs? This became a sad, sad little article the second the claim was made that 502 would make a difference in racial profiling, it wont, it easily could get worse.

This article is just more lies from the pro-502.
Posted by Reba on October 25, 2012 at 9:51 AM · Report this
@32 Fixed. Thank you!
Posted by Anna Minard on October 25, 2012 at 9:56 AM · Report this
Auragasm 49
Think about the REAL consequence of all this: GOVERNMENT SHWAG! Scary!

Here in Eastern WA after the DEA raids, almost nobody has had the balls to open up a legit medical dispensary. Patient to Patient and homegrowing are still fine, but nearly every "dispensary" operates under a front business. It's pretty fucking sketchy.

What's stopping the DEA from confiscating and indimidating these new producers and retailers?

And then what will we do when people can legally get high, but can't legally obtain it? Back to square one.

I think we're rolling out too much too fast when patients who actually benefit from it still have to visit a drug dealer. Why not fill the holes in our medical laws first?
Posted by Auragasm on October 25, 2012 at 10:49 AM · Report this
Great piece Dominic, one of your best. Shame it's probably preaching to the converted. While not everyone has considered the racial issues involved, I suspect most Stranger readers, or those who are going to vote, were already going to vote yea on 502.
Posted by Periodically on October 25, 2012 at 10:51 AM · Report this
The health benefits alone should be enough to get marijuana legalized. But with Big Pharma, Mexican drug cartels (that have set up shop in Nor Cal and other areas), growers, and the scores of people making a living off of criminalizing pot users, as well as any company that might feel threatened by hemp fiber, and oil being made available, legalization has been an uphill battle. Never mind the thousands of ordinary citizens who have been labled criminals. It's been a travisty. This is as closest I've seen things get ( in 62 years) to the tipping point to in our country.
Posted by denij on October 25, 2012 at 10:54 AM · Report this
Posted by Vin-e on October 25, 2012 at 1:50 PM · Report this
@49 "Why not fill the holes in our medical laws first?"

Part of the reason that Social Security is popular is because _everyone_ has it. Medical Marijuana is a minority stakes game.

Further, the demand and normalization of pot is primarily on the recreational side, but it is widely held that some of this demand is being met by improper usage of Medical Marijuana provisions, which taints them to a greater or lesser degree in public perception.

Lastly, I-502 is on the ballot now, while your hoped for reform of Medical Marijuana is not, and honestly isn't even clearly spelled out or commonly agreed upon.

So, the question is would I-502 actually make it worse for the patients you are supposedly championing. Given not unlimited resources for the DEA, it seems like more targets would actually be a net gain.
Posted by Concerned Parent For I-502 on October 25, 2012 at 3:31 PM · Report this
Thank you for recognizing the role this will play regarding civil rights in Washington. Please, aside from voting (no matter which direction) this fall, I want to ask that everyone watches "The House I Live In" by Eugene Jarecki - a fantastic documentary made by an incredibly articulate man that discusses our failed war on drugs (and points out that, despite popular perception, only 14% of crack users in this country are black). This is an incredibly important issue and I will be so proud of Washington State if we can pass this bill and challenge a huge element of racism and classism that still pervades our society.
Posted by betsy123 on October 25, 2012 at 4:56 PM · Report this
Eastpike 55
@33 The police won't use any equipment for testing, it can only be done at a medical facility (which mean if you're pulled over in the sticks, you have more time to sober up before they make the sample!). Also, some bloggers may or may not have done this already, but I don't trust the results unless they're being done under peer-reviewed, scientific conditions.
Posted by Eastpike on October 25, 2012 at 8:00 PM · Report this
Ok, Im just going to say it. Want the police to stop profiling minorities, how about reforming and re/educating the police force. I know, it's crazy! It will never work! But legalized weed is not gonna stop police from pulling people over for driving while black and issuing DUIs that would never be issued under current law.

The white lawyers, state legeslative officials and law enforcement are laughing at this right now. DUI lawyers are planning on making BANK off if this passes. The state Senate cannot wait to exploit this to line their pockets. The police will be happy to issue extra tickets and bring more people in to the station. Why? Revenue.

Follow the money, use your brains. No law, no matter how seemingly awesome, is going to end racial profiling. Any law, no matter how awesome, can be exploited.
Posted by AshaBaby on October 25, 2012 at 8:44 PM · Report this
Excellent piece. I wavered on my position on 502 due to some of my previous 'Keep the gov out of my/our business, We got this already' thought patterns.

It is now my opinion that the only reasonable way forward is to battle the BS headlong. Take it the courts. Prohibition will be shot down because it is unconstitutional.
Posted by mannyh on October 25, 2012 at 8:44 PM · Report this
watchout5 58
In trying to say similar things to the people in my friend circle who complain about I-502. The kind of bill they want will never get passed in our lifetime. There's just no way. Unless we start somewhere we'll never get to start. I want to walk into a store and buy marijuana from a person making like 10 bucks an hour who's selling it to me for the same reason I just bought a gallon of alcohol, FREEDOM. If you're standing in the way of ultimate freedoms for a freedom less than 10% of the pot smoking population pushes the limit of you're totally doing freedom wrong. I got really angry at a friend who made the taxes case, I was all, oh my fuck dude this bill make us pay for marijuana, that's crazy cause I'm voting for I-502 cause of racism. There was no more response. Like this article, I've been waiting for marijuana to be legal before I even knew what it was. I can't believe anyone who's waited as long as I have would throw out making so much progress for no other reason than being a selfish prick about such a small part of what it would mean to legalize marijuana. This article is so great in that respect, and while I'm sure you'll get less than 1% of the concern trolls to change their mind they really really need to hear this. I'm really curious after the election is over to look at the exit polls and how race plays in I-502. I want to confirm that it's white people who need to be more progressive on this issue and that every other race gets it. I really hope I'm proven right, because I will never let my friends forget their racism in the defense of keeping marijuana illegal while I toss around a half ounce of weed walking by the police station. "This is what you were fighting against" as I remind them how many pot smokers are rotting away BECAUSE OF ME. :)
Posted by watchout5 http://www.overclockeddrama.com on October 26, 2012 at 5:18 AM · Report this
Legalizing drugs takes the money away from criminals. That to me is by far the most importiant factor in this issue.

Posted by Look at these numbers. on October 26, 2012 at 8:58 AM · Report this
I agree with Dominic here, but am interested on why he quit smoking. One reason might be that had he continued, he wouldn't be working at the STranger and writing coherent articles like the one above. I wish that in addition to legalization which would empty the prisons and free up minorities to vote, there would be mention as to how pot has ruined the lives of many young black kids.

It is a disgrace that so many pot smokers have felony convictions that keep them from voting, but it is equally a shame that so many people have frittered away their your youth avoiding reality in a stoned haze.

You stopped smoking yet you have never shared your reason for doing so. And that is a shame, because I am sure it was a good reason. The same reason that so many kids in the central district might well want to follow
Posted by jeffy on October 26, 2012 at 10:04 AM · Report this
@8 So every and all taxes are illegitimate, since every and all taxes are an exercise of 'force'?

You are the biggest moron in the history of the universe.

How do you think your wages and benefits were paid for when you served in the Coast Guard? Voluntary contributions?

Zero taxes equals zero government equals anarchy.
Posted by Functional Atheist on October 26, 2012 at 6:18 PM · Report this
really, dominic, i applaud your desire to address civil rights in your argument for i-502, however i find some glaring and monumental issues that you seem to overlook. let me explain--in the beginning of the article, you set up the argument by talking about the 'kids'
and the racial disparities of arrests. fine. later you say, "it would allow adults to possess..." furthermore, the stats you refer to do not break down arrests by age as well as race. i believe the legal age of being an 'adult' is 18. so what about all of the 18-20 year olds that will be arrested for possessing marijuana? the ones that will be be arrested are still going to be the racial minorities. are they 'kids' or 'adults'? do you care about those young people? personally i know of some 18 year olds that have chronic pain from sports injuries and other diseases that use medical marijuana for pain relief. would you have them doped up on prescription drugs that annually kill more kids than any other cause of death? and to those that say youths who smoke pot have wasted away their years in a hazed out daze have not heard of michael phelps and other amazing people that succeeded while enjoying the benefits of medical marijuana? perhaps the persons referred to as wasting their years in a daze would have become
more hard-core criminals or have been doa due to the use of prescription drugs or methamphetamines. think about these things, folks. personally i'd way rather have my 18 year old smoke weed than use prescription drugs or alcohol, which are killers, when weed is not.
Posted by mother mary on October 26, 2012 at 7:46 PM · Report this
Hempfester-Jack'sFriend 63
If passed no one will be able to afford medicine. This is the sheep in wolfs clothing if ever I've seen it. Who will be able to afford 1 oz or 1lb? [currently 1oz $200-$260 & 1LB $1800 - $3200] no one.. because of the 25% tax for each: producers; processors & retailers - add that up and whatta get? OH back to the Black Market era [all those dried up ex-dealers -WAKE UP GUYS -- HIGH PRICES ARE BACK!! You're in biz again!!] So voting yes will create more arrests through the guise of Suspicion of being under the influence. My friend who took 1 puff after several years of non-smoking was tested the following day [20 hours later] & tested at 40 Nanograms - 1 PUFF.. welcome to "perpetually Under The Influence" .. sad Dom you think of yourself and not about all the people you will put in jail, Label Criminal and the Families you will ruin. Thanks for your Quick to judge Yes vote - you're clearly lost! and I personally no longer support the stranger, its full of selfish folks who really don't get it! Devils in the details .. pay attention! FOLKS .. DO NOT RELY ON ME OR DOM TELLING YOU .. Go Read The Entire Initiative For Yourself!! DEVIL'S IN THE DETAILS!!
Posted by Hempfester-Jack'sFriend on October 27, 2012 at 2:14 PM · Report this
It was a great column...

until you glossed over the financials...
Posted by Where_Is_John_Galt on October 27, 2012 at 2:46 PM · Report this
Hempfester-Jack'sFriend 65
Dominic H. is a Hack Journalist ... old but still current - http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2012/01/att…

VOTE NO on I-502!! We need to not allow this to pass..we need everyones Vote!! Dom is wrong.. The Stranger is WRONG .. you must read this!!

- Vote NO on I-502!!

Dom shouldn't be speaking for the marijuana community when he is so diluted!

- VOTE NO! on I-502
Posted by Hempfester-Jack'sFriend on October 27, 2012 at 8:21 PM · Report this
In Colorado, we have a pot initiative, too. I am voting yes because the medical marijuana thing is a scam. Anyone who wants to smoke pot already does, and I'm OK with putting the dishonest "doctors" who write prescriptions for it out of business. For the rest of us, there will be regulation and tax revenue. Strangely, I haven't heard ANY opposition to it. I think the people who are for it are laying low to avoid drawing said opposition. The only ad I've seen for it period is a former Denver police officer giving the same line you mention here, about it freeing the police to concentrate on more serious crimes.
Posted by random_lez on October 27, 2012 at 8:46 PM · Report this
Totally agree with 66 and who gives a poop anyhow, it's just pot. I hate it, my friends love it, they use it responsibly. I don't think people should drive drunk, stoned or fucked up in any way but other than that..let's get the black peeps and other bogusly arrested non-violent people out of prison. Talk about a waste of tax dollars, 'welfare' doesn't even come close to what we spend to lock up and fuck up the lives of people smoking weed. Those crazy trolls are so high they can't think beyond paranoia.
Posted by Lisa808 on October 28, 2012 at 4:02 AM · Report this
Fuck SSeattle and the rest of Nazington;this state is no less racist than Dixie!(Globalism,the SSo-KKKalled War on Terror,and the KKKold War are (yes,THAT one's still on!) are basically all about expanding "White" Privilege,in case YOU didn't want to publicly acknowledge it!)Pfft!!!---http://www.blackagendareport.com
Posted by 5th Columnist on October 28, 2012 at 8:32 AM · Report this
Nazingtonians want to rid this state of "Blacks" and "White" trash by only hiring the foreign-born AND destroying what little of a safety net exists for those of who aren't both racially "White" AND not Lower-Class!!! (KKKlaSS Warfare,indeed ---- http;//theyrule.net )
Posted by 5th Columnist on October 28, 2012 at 8:48 AM · Report this
They say the essential point of I-502 is to force the feds to a court-room showdown;IF that happens,then who knows how long it will drag out?(Meanwhile,the "illegal" market will continue to cater to those who can't afford "legal" cannabis and adults younger than twenty one Gregorian years . . . .o.O ----> http://www.hemp.org
Posted by 5th Columnist on October 28, 2012 at 8:53 AM · Report this
Interesting that the first half of your "article" focuses on minorities being unjustly targeted and prosecuted for drug possession. Yet in the second half, you fail to make any correlation when citing DUI per se limits. If cops are already racially profiling minority drivers in the poorest neighborhoods of our cities, than would officers not be more likely to do so when a new legislation is introduced making DUI prosecution easier?
This legislation is the first of its kind. But not because of its quasi efforts to decriminalize cannabis. But because in all the history of our great state's legislative efforts, no supporter of a bill has stood on the platform of "this is as good as it's going to get".
Posted by Beets on October 28, 2012 at 7:47 PM · Report this
Great article. I think the most important thing this law does, as you pointed out here, is that it conflicts with federal law and as you say there will be a show down which is a good thing because we finally get our day in court and get to put our case.
Consider that prohibition this time round is not limited just to the US. This has global ramifications.
It does not matter what the concern trolls think they are losing, the rest of the world is going to see this as legalization and their jaws are going to drop to the floor, "Washington did what"? Just the fact that it is coming form Washington will be a major jaw dropper as so many people confuse the state with the capitol.
And when nations that are drowning in blood and debt as a result of this hideous nightmare see that 'America' has legalized, there will be little reason for them to continue with the charade that has cost them many of their loved ones and their economy.
Never forget that the worst poverty and conflicts in the world all center around areas that were once legitimate producers of cannabis, opium and cocaine.
Many countries are calling for reform and have edged as close as they dare to it, without actually doing it for fear of economic sanctions but if I 502 passes there will be little reason to hold back.
The result will be that they will just legalize and prohibition will fall like the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union.
The Marijuana Spring.
Once that happens federal and international laws will literally be rendered null and void and its all over.
Then the trolls if they were sincere at all about their concerns will be able to put their concerns on the tables for discussion and everyone will be free to form new laws the feel more appropriate.
Personally I am all for complete legalization of 'the safest therapeutically active substance known to man' Judge Francis Young.
But I recognize that that the only way through this minefield is with small calculated steps.
Thank you people of Washington and activists who have taken us to this point.
Your efforts will save many lives and restore order to the world economy.
And once we are over this hurdle we will be able to return the cannabis plant to its rightful place as one of the worlds major plant species and one of the most important plants to civilization.
I hope too that we will also be able to put on trial the people responsible for prohibition.
They knew they were violating people's rights for the sake of their own profit and power.
Yes on I 502.
War is Over!
Posted by Paul Pot on October 28, 2012 at 11:05 PM · Report this
NaFun 73
@63 and @65 - Is this Dominic with a sock puppet? Because this is too silly to be real.

"Dom shouldn't be speaking for the marijuana community when he is so diluted!"

Yeah Dom, why can't you concentrate!
Posted by NaFun http://www.dancesafe.org on October 29, 2012 at 10:53 AM · Report this
"...That battle is strategic, it's overdue, and it's the goal. And in the meantime, the new state law allowing people to possess marijuana will be what's enforced locally. So we have our cake and eat it, too...."

Boy, are you going to look stupid if this passes and the Feds get an injuction that will keep it from going into effect until it goes through the Courts.

You don't need to be a concern troll to see the obvious, provided you actually understand what the Feds can and cannot do here.

Will it ultimately prevail? Maybe? But you are bringing a knife to a gunfight so far...
Posted by Nemo on October 29, 2012 at 11:15 AM · Report this
Hempfester-Jack'sFriend 75
NaFun = Stranger Troll... look at his previous comments - definitely out of touch, NaFun's opinion = Moot

Vote NO on I-502!
Unless you wanna give up your 5th Amendment Right by voting Yes.

I am a supporter of Marijuana, however I can't see why we would throw ourselves under the bus to give this a chance. I am sickened by this as you see people who Hate Pot are voting Yes [red flag folks] and people who appreciate what we currently have and know there is need for change, but not this change, are voting NO. ... The devils pitted us against each other and has diluted the vision of some. The best thing any one could do that hasn't yet voted is to READ THE Initiative Yourself!! Read the current law..

VOTE NO on I-502!!
Posted by Hempfester-Jack'sFriend on October 29, 2012 at 12:41 PM · Report this
Hempfester-Jack'sFriend 76
Why was Marijuana illegal to possess after 1933? - Oh because it was TAXED so High that No One would be able to afford to legally possess it!

--And What Drug Cartels are "controlling all the money"

--Why have the State Liquor Control Board oversee everything? They know Alcohol and Nothing about Cannabis! Why not have specialists in the field be the ones to oversee the Cannabis Industry?
Posted by Hempfester-Jack'sFriend on October 29, 2012 at 12:51 PM · Report this
am i voting to legalize pot or am i voting to save black people from going to jail????? ps i am white and spent 4 months in jail for smoke!!
Posted by kid moxie on October 29, 2012 at 7:32 PM · Report this
thank you. very informative and helpful for me. Look forward to your next article.

Posted by lucif on October 30, 2012 at 8:41 AM · Report this
I voted no.

Your main thesis here is wrong b/c car stops will now be deweys and the rest will go from possession the resisting arrest. And if u have a g over an ounce ur going to jail anyway. Sharing a joint with ur friend? The cops will bust u for delivery. Marijuana will still be treated as illegal by cops and onlyin some cases will this law matter.

Wa will never be selling pot through this licensing scheme. Won't happen. Ever.

On the other hand the dea could say adios med clinics.

At that point we crushed the gains we've been able to eek out in places like seattle the feds are semi leaving alone.
Posted by PanWhale on October 30, 2012 at 1:24 PM · Report this
The opponents' concern about the increase in marijuana DUIs seems a bit overblown. First, only idiots are making the argument that some people need to be stoned to drive (see #30 above - arguing for "medical patients who need cannabis to drive"). If you need to take marijuana in order to drive, you shouldn't be driving.

Second, opponents fail to take into account the logistics for a police officer in MJ DUIs. In a run-of-the-mill alcohol DUI, an officer observes suspicious driving (swerving, weaving, etc.), pulls the car over, smells booze on the driver, asks for the driver to take Field Sobriety Tests, and frequently also take a Portable Breath Test (a field reading breath test). With a solid DUI, the cop has made observations on all of these parts (poor driving, driver smells like booze, slurs speech, can't complete the field tests without falling over, PBT reading above .08, etc.). It is the totality of the observations that leads to a basis for arrest.

In a MJ DUI, an officer can make all the same observations (bad driving, inability to perform field tests, odor of MJ). However, there is no available portable field test for MJ. MJ testing can only be done by blood draw and blood testing. So the officer has to decide whether to make an arrest in order to pursue a blood draw, or whether to let the person go for lack of probable cause. Because there is no portable method to obtain an MJ reading, it will actually be harder for police to find probable cause to make an arrest. And if an officer has all of these other grounds to support a conclusion of impairment (bad driving, etc.), well, the person gets arrested. Doesn't seem to outrageous to me. The only thing different from where things stand now is that there is an actual number set as the point of legal impairment.

The threat of a sudden onslaught of MJ DUIs is simply overblown. I don't know why opponents have chosen that as the red herring to base their opposition on. To my mind, it does not come close to outweighing the many, many reasons it would be good to pass this law.
Posted by TheMadrone on October 30, 2012 at 4:32 PM · Report this
tharp42 81
#33,36,76: You are a total tit. Lots of SCREAMING ALL CAPS and exclamation points (!!!!!) don't make your case more convincing, they just make you look like the hysterical ball bag you are.

When I read about all you pro-pot folks that are voting no, it makes my stomach turn. I voted absentee and happily penned in the "yes" bubble on this. All of your kevetching and equivicating doesn't change the fact that this is a chance to make history, and I think most of you are too baked to actually see it. Or just selfish, greedy, or more likely: Dumb.

Vote yes. Anything else is some shameful shit.
Posted by tharp42 on October 30, 2012 at 6:32 PM · Report this
I don't care who you are voting for or what issues you support. Please, please, please put a stamp on your ballot and mail it in as soon as possible or leave it in the election drop box. If everyone waits until the very last minute to mail in their ballots then we won't know who won any of these races that we care so much about for many days after the election. Please do your part to save us all the headache of wondering whether I-502 or R-74 passed or not and vote tomorrow if you haven't voted already and get everyone you know to vote early too. The mail takes several days to deliver a ballot and there is absolutely no reason to wait until November to vote. Thanks!
Posted by historyteacher on October 30, 2012 at 7:24 PM · Report this
I don't care who you are voting for or what issues you support. Please, please, please put a stamp on your ballot and mail it in as soon as possible or leave it in the election drop box. If everyone waits until the very last minute to mail in their ballots then we won't know who won any of these races that we care so much about for many days after the election. Please do your part to save us all the headache of wondering whether I-502 or R-74 passed or not on election day and vote by the end of the week if you haven't voted already. Get everyone you know to vote early too. There is absolutely no reason to wait until November 6. Thanks!
Posted by historyteacher on October 30, 2012 at 7:27 PM · Report this
And you people have audacity to call Southerners racists? When you have thin black and brown populations and you incarcerate them like slaves? FU, Seattle. YOU people are the true racists. The reporter's stats clearly show how RACIST you jerks are. Now be good little honkies and vote down the legalization of a naturally growing weed and make sure you racists vote for a Bain Capital administration too. FU, from Texas.
Posted by CatMan on October 31, 2012 at 7:31 AM · Report this
Thank ya for writing these facts, speaking truth to power, and holding the Hemp-Fest Organizers and Access-Point owners responsible for their selfish thinking. I am an MMJ patient, and I voted for 502 based solely on fighting social-injustice and racism. Ending a tool that police have that enforces racial-inequality is the most important thing to me.
Posted by Rizeberg on October 31, 2012 at 9:31 AM · Report this
There is no legal or scientific standard for a person to be “too stoned to drive” based on the THC levels in one’s bloodstream. There are numerous studies, however, that say there is almost no correlation between the use of marijuana and driving ability.

The levels of THC and its metabolites in your blood depend on how much and how often you use marijuana. --There is no set formula.--

If you are a heavy user, you can have high levels THC as much as 12 hours afteruse. The NHTSA and leading scientific studies have stated that it is impossible to determine whether someone was using marijuana at or near the time of driving based on the presence of THC in the blood.
Posted by crashff on November 5, 2012 at 6:39 PM · Report this
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Posted by Zaza on November 8, 2012 at 3:15 PM · Report this

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