Pot Activists vs. Pot Activists

Initiative 502 would legalize marijuana for all adults—and it’s not conservatives or cops leading the charge to stop it. It’s pot activists. Inside the progressive left’s war with itself.

Pot Activists vs. Pot Activists

Kelly O

GREEN BUDDHA’S MURACO KYASHNA-TOCHA One of the few dispensary owners “completely in support” of I-502.

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Every 53 minutes, someone in Washington State gets arrested for pot. That could be a thing of the past before the year is out. Initiative 502, on the November ballot, is the whole shebang: legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana. We're not just talking about making pot possession punishable by, say, a $100 fine, like Massachusetts did in 2008. Instead, I-502 would remove all penalties for adults 21 and older who possess up to an ounce of marijuana. It would also license pot agriculture, allow trucks to drive around distributing pot like beer, and permit stores to sell pot over the counter.

No state has ever done this. Passing I-502 would put Washington State at the forefront of the national movement to finally end pot prohibition. (The 10,000 annual pot arrests in Washington State are just a sliver of the 853,838 arrests in the United States, where there's one pot bust every 37 seconds.) And if current polling can be believed, I-502 will pass. In January, SurveyUSA found that 51 percent of likely November voters in this state support legalizing and taxing marijuana, while only 41 percent oppose it (8 percent are undecided). A poll two months earlier by the same firm found it passing with 57 percent of the voters. This is also a presidential election year in which a statewide gay-marriage referendum will appear on the ballot, drawing out more of the young, progressive voters who pollsters say are inclined to approve pot legalization.

In nearly all respects—from setting specific new penalties for driving while intoxicated to placing excise taxes at each stage of production—I-502 copies the template we use for alcohol. And unlike other failed pot initiatives that have come before, heralded by pot activists with little money, this campaign has national funding and a credible phalanx of backers. The initiative's sponsor, New Approach Washington, has raised more than $1.1 million thus far and is led by former US Attorney John McKay, Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes, travel icon Rick Steves, and former health department officials and bar association presidents. The campaign is managed by ACLU of Washington's Alison Holcomb, a former marijuana defense attorney, and it has the financing of out-of-state billionaires George Soros and Peter Lewis.

"This has been a reformer's wet dream from 3,000 miles away on K Street," says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), sitting in his office in Washington, DC. He says that NORML has endorsed dozens of initiatives since it was founded in 1970—most of them failed, of course—but that this initiative's combination of leaders gives it an unprecedented shot at winning. "I have never seen a better assembled public-relations effort, a better group of local community leaders," St. Pierre says.

But there's a hitch.

"Despite all those good things I just said," St. Pierre warns, "the one thing that stands out in Washington is that there wasn't sufficient buy-in from the existing and important grassroots community."

It's true: The groups that traditionally oppose legalization—conservatives and cops—are not the ones leading the campaign to kill I-502. The people leading the campaign to kill I-502 are, paradoxically, other pot activists—specifically, pot activists with ties to the medical marijuana community: dispensary owners, medical marijuana lawyers, medical marijuana patients, medical pot trade magazines, doctors who give medical marijuana authorizations, etc.

On February 21, they filed a political action committee called No on I-502. Not to be dismissed as a fringe constituency, their campaign has donation pledges from attorneys and doctors, says treasurer Anthony Martinelli. He says the industry of booming medical marijuana dispensaries may also fund his group's fall campaign of television commercials and newspaper advertisements. Even though I-502 doesn't meddle in the medical pot law passed by voters in 1998, the booming medical marijuana industry that's grown up around the medical marijuana rules as they currently exist has a lot of complaints about I-502: that federal courts will strike down parts of it and leave a legal mess, that the initiative's 25 percent excise taxes at each stage of production would be too high, and—again, even though it leaves the medical marijuana law intact—that it will "potentially interfere with a patient's right to grow their own medicine," according to a flyer distributed by THC List, a website that runs ads for 140 local medical marijuana dispensaries. But more than anything, the No on I-502 activists are deeply concerned that a DUI provision in I-502 will penalize medical marijuana patients who drive with active THC in their blood, even a day or a week after the last time they got high. Over the past few months, the DUI talking point has become the opposition's primary line of attack. Martinelli goes so far as to claim that I-502 "will take away driving for all cannabis users."

Put simply, the industry that has benefited from the gray market created by our medical marijuana law passed in 1998 is now circling its wagons to stop an initiative that would legalize pot for everybody else. That's not unprecedented. In fact, it's what happened in California in 2010: The medical marijuana industry—threatened by the prospect of legalization harming their business model—got very vocal in its opposition and helped beat Prop 19 by 47 to 53 percent. Which is why experts like St. Pierre say things like "The medical marijuana industry is driven by profit. It's not driven by compassion anymore. It is driven by the need to make money. Which NORML is okay with, but don't blow smoke up our ass claiming that medical marijuana is the end goal."

For St. Pierre and for pot activists historically, the end goal is complete legalization. But not for Michael Lick, whose dispensary Urban Roots has picked up 1,100 patients since opening in the University District last April. He opposes I-502 because he fears the industry would be quashed, and, believe it or not, he thinks recreational pot users should be punished. "I feel that cannabis is a medicine," Lick explains. "If people are using cannabis without a doctor's recommendation, the same thing should happen as if you were using any medication without prescription... you get arrested for possession." (For the record: If we did treat pot like pharmaceutical drugs used without a prescription, the penalty would become more severe, increasing possession to a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.)

Right now in Washington, pot possession is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Cities like Yakima are the norm when it comes to pot enforcement here—not liberal places like Seattle, where we have zero prosecutions per year for possession because voters made marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority and elected a city attorney who refuses to press pot charges. In Washington State, 87 percent of pot arrests in 2010 were for simple possession. Attorney Alex Newhouse handles 30 to 40 misdemeanor pot cases a year in Yakima County District Court, and he says defendants are routinely sentenced to at least a day in jail. The cost of those arrests and prosecutions (not even including jail or probation) reach $23.6 million per year, according to estimates by the Washington State House of Representatives Program Research. (There is no fiscal note yet for I-502, but legislative staff found a similar legalization bill would likely generate at least $240 million per year in savings and new revenue.)

Still, obviously, law-enforcement efforts have been ineffective at deterring marijuana use. Forty-one percent of all adults in the state—2.8 million people—have tried marijuana, according to the state's own research, and there are an estimated 294,000 regular pot smokers. That's more regular stoners in Washington than the populations of Tacoma and Bellingham combined—all facing the daily risk of arrest, prosecution, and jail. Meanwhile, the national pot arrest rate has outpaced population growth. While the country's population grew only 24 percent from 1990 to 2010, pot arrests increased by more than 200 percent in roughly that same time frame. And needless to say, drug enforcement falls disproportionately on African American and Latino communities, even though white people smoke pot at the same rate.

Still, dispensary operator Lick worries that if I-502 passes, "it would cause people to start treating cannabis like an intoxicating drug... and it will hurt what we have done in the medical community to bring this to the patients."

The anti-I-502 campaign was filed chiefly by Gil Mobley, a doctor who operates a clinic in Federal Way that writes medical marijuana authorizations and has the backing of Patients Against I-502, led by the region's leading medical pot lawyers, doctors, and dispensaries around Seattle. Patients Against I-502's advocacy has been led in part by Hempfest director and medical cannabis patient Vivian McPeak, along with marijuana defense attorneys Jeffrey Steinborn and Douglas Hiatt. All except Mobley have direct ties to Sensible Washington, an initiative campaign that twice failed to get a legalization initiative (that contained no DUI provision and zero regulations) to qualify for the ballot.

In Washington State's unlikely turnabout, it's not the conservative right and law-enforcement officials who are leading the charge to stop legalization. It is the progressive left, at war with itself.

This piece isn't about the benefits of medical marijuana specifically—it's about the fight over the rules as they apply to a medical marijuana patient behind the wheel of a car—but there is no question that marijuana is a powerful medicine. In early 1998, the year Initiative 692 to legalize medical marijuana was on the ballot, a friend of mine was spending all his time in his bedroom, strapped into a contraption that looked like a hospital bed crossed with a catapult. He couldn't move much or speak clearly anymore; the disease prevented his brain and muscles from cooperating. Pills from his doctor weren't much help with the pain. But pot helped. After his wife would hold joints up to his lips, he'd giggle at sitcoms and eat soup. With the help of another friend, my job was to descend into the basement twice a week to care for two rooms of marijuana plants, one with smaller shrubs and one with full-sized plants in the budding stage. We'd cut down the stalks, hang them to dry, and trim the dried buds (for all those joints he was smoking). During the last year of his life in his South Seattle bungalow, the man found pain relief. He found an appetite. He laughed.

Helping him was completely illegal at the time—and we were all afraid of getting busted, which is why I'm not naming anyone—but so what? It was the right thing to do.

Initiative 692 passed that fall, thanks less to the yard signs we hammered into the lawn and more to a half-million dollars in contributions from out-of-state donors. But even after its passage, the horrors of medical marijuana busts didn't stop. Seattle cops raided Will Laudanski's Central District apartment in 2010, guns drawn at his head, for two perfectly legal medical marijuana plants. (No charges were filed because there was no crime.) A few years before that, an 8-year-old girl in Washington State named Chandler Osman was sitting in a pickup truck when it rolled backward over her grandfather, killing him, as the old man was trying to fix the trailer, and when state troopers arrived at the scene, they interrogated the girl, found out her parents were medical marijuana patients, and then raided her parents' apartment. I stood in the state Capitol Building last spring, appalled, as Governor Chris Gregoire vetoed a bill that would have at long last sheltered legal patients from arrest (the original medical marijuana law provides only a defense in court).

In short: I've been an activist and a reporter on this beat for a long time. One dispensary operator I interviewed for this article, who was upset by some of my coverage of I-502 thus far, said, "Hopefully in this next article you will disclose your relationship with the ACLU, Holcomb, and the rest."

Fair enough. I know lots of people on both sides of the issue. I worked for the ACLU of Washington with Alison Holcomb, who is now running the I-502 campaign; I was also a Hempfest director along with Vivian McPeak, who opposes I-502; in fact, Vivian and I lived in the same house for four years; I served on the board of NORML for several years alongside attorney Jeffrey Steinborn, who is also campaigning against I-502; I also worked briefly as an employee of the November Coalition, run by director Nora Callahan, who opposes the initiative. If I have allegiances, they're split.

While I supported the medical marijuana law, it's not enough. It's still leaving medical marijuana patients vulnerable to arrests, police raids, and raw abuses of the law. And that medical pot law, as great as it's been, is useless for the vast majority of marijuana smokers who are going to jail by the thousands in Washington for using pot recreationally.

And really, what the hell is wrong with an adult using pot as long as pot smokers aren't, say, stoned behind the wheel?

The fight over the rules for driving is the central debate in I-502, at least on its face. Pot doctors, dispensary operators, and a thriving market of pot-centric publications are consumed with the issue.

Not all of these people want to lock up recreational pot smokers, of course.

Josh Berman, director of 4Evergreen Group, a medical cannabis servicing company that provides patient authorizations and has locations in Tacoma and Seattle, supports legalization, he says, but vehemently echoes the industry's primary concern that it will incriminate patients who aren't impaired but have enough active THC in their blood to get busted.

Approximating the .08 cutoff for blood-alcohol content in drivers, I-502 would establish a cutoff of 5 nanograms of active THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, per milliliter of blood. As with alcohol, any driver who exceeds the limit would be automatically guilty of DUI. The blood content is all that's required to convict someone of driving while intoxicated.

Under I-502, Berman said in an e-mail, DUIs for pot "will skyrocket." Likewise, Steinborn, the Seattle attorney, says, "Possession cases will be replaced by DUI cases."

However, the very same scientific study that activists are citing to prove their point contradicts their argument.

The Patients Against I-502 website cites a 2009 study by Erin Karschner and other researchers that Martinelli says "proves that users fail these tests six or seven days after using."

Parsing the science here gets a little thick, but the technicalities are essential for understanding the biggest dispute in a monumental decision facing Washington State voters, so bear with me. The important thing to remember is that I-502 creates a cutoff for drivers who have more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood, or "5 ng/mL." Anyone above that limit would face charges for driving under the influence.

Still with me?


Karschner measured levels of active THC in 25 long-term heavy marijuana users over a seven-day period. "We chose experienced cannabis smokers, aged 21–45 years, reporting multiple years of use," the report explains. The subjects reported consuming anywhere from a dime bag to 10 blunts a day. Researchers found that only one of the participants had active THC levels above 5 ng/mL on "admission (day 1)," the same day the woman may have consumed marijuana, and the rest of the participants had levels lower than 5 ng/mL. The woman with active THC levels above 5 ng/mL had reported smoking four blunts per day. (Holy cow!) However, the day after smoking, her THC levels had dropped to 2.9 ng/mL. Every other participant's THC levels had dropped even lower by day two as well. By day six, the levels were undetectable in most of the participants—and all of them were far below 5 ng/mL. (For the record, this research and the DUI provision in I-502 both concern active THC, not inactive THC metabolites.)

Put simply: According to the study opponents cite, none of the heavy pot users showed THC levels above the cutoff that I-502 would establish for drivers, except for one person on the same day she was admitted.

Critics of I-502 point out correctly, though, that peer-reviewed scientific literature like Karschner's is very limited, and the field of THC measurements is in its infancy. It may seem dull as shit to consider more of the available studies, but this is the leading argument being used to oppose pot legalization, so we'll forge on.

Dr. Stefan Toennes, who authored three studies measuring THC levels in the blood, is based in Frankfurt, Germany. Asked to explain his findings, Toennes wrote in an e-mail to The Stranger, "I think that in almost all cases, THC would be lower than 5 ng/mL blood at latest by 12 hours after use. Since all controlled studies cover only a time range of usually up to 8 hours, there is no data available covering the following hours up to 24 hours. However, in special cases (e.g., very high dose chronic use) I would not exclude times up to 24 hours."

Franjo Grotenhermen, in Heidelberg, Germany, has also written several studies on the subject. Asked by e-mail how long THC may remain in the blood, Grotenhermen wrote back that THC levels are detectable after 48 hours, but generally below the 5 ng/mL cutoff. He added that "regular users may exceed the 5 ng/mL the day after last use or even two days after last use, but not a week after last use." I asked, "Are there any data that show a user above 5 ng/mL after 24 hours, or even 12 hours?" He couldn't cite any—but, again, there is not a lot of data on the subject. The closest he noted was a 2008 report that showed low THC levels in heavy users 24 to 48 hours after last use. The study by Gisela Skopp et al. found that none of them exceeded the 5 ng/mL cutoff. The highest was 6.4 ng/mL of blood serum. (Note: That test measured blood serum, in which THC concentrations are roughly double their levels in whole blood. In whole blood, Grotenhermen explains, the equivalent would be 3.2 ng/mL, well below the cutoff for drivers in I-502.)

In other words, the peer-reviewed scientific research shows that the vast majority of marijuana users would drop below the 5 ng/mL cutoff within several hours of last use. That said, in some rare exceptions of very heavy users, it is possible that THC levels would exceed that cutoff.

Mobley, the doctor running the campaign against I-502, remains unconvinced. He says he conducted his own studies of medical marijuana patients in Washington that show those patients exceeding the 5 ng/mL cutoff the day after a patient's last use of marijuana. He wrote in a comment on The Stranger's blog: "I've conducted my own follow-up on doctor-approved medical cannabis patients wanting to know about their levels. REGULAR USERS that have abstained (observed) for just over 48 hours were noted to have levels around 5 (a mean of 4.7 ng/mL to be exact)." But when asked by The Stranger to disclose details of his findings, Mobley declined to share his research or to comment on it.

As the anti-legalization campaign repeatedly points out, the science on THC and driving is minimal. That's true, and "per se" cutoffs are imperfect. I believe that officers must be required to prove impairment and, in all cases, a driver deserves a court defense. However, while those principles stand, I couldn't find a single scientific study—even after consulting the leading researchers—that showed a user would violate the cutoff if they just waited several hours after getting high before driving.

Furthermore, police officers would still need probable cause to apprehend a driver and take him or her to a laboratory to conduct a blood test. (Officers in Washington cannot currently perform roadside blood tests for THC.) If a person was pulled over and taken in for a blood test without evidence of impairment, attorneys could file a motion to dismiss the case—even if the blood draw went on to show THC levels above the legal cutoff.

But there have been cases in which officers did have probable cause for blood draws. Last year, a woman named Allison Bigelow was pulled over for a broken taillight in Sedro-Woolley, according to Skagit County District Court records. The officer wrote in a police report that he detected "a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle" and "observed her eyes were bloodshot." The woman reportedly told the officer that she had a doctor's note to use marijuana for back pain, but that she hadn't consumed marijuana in more than eight hours. During a field sobriety test, she "lost her balance several times," the police report says, and "she stumbled several times." The woman was then blood-tested at a laboratory, which revealed she had a THC level of 18.3 ng/mL, according to a report submitted to the court by the Washington State Toxicology Laboratory. Bigelow pled guilty to negligent driving in the first degree, court records show, allowing her to avoid the more serious conviction of DUI.

In a 2002 case, a man named Raymond Hill was convicted of vehicular homicide after he lost control of a tow truck and rolled across lanes of I-5, leaving a passenger dead, according to King County Superior Court records. A witness told police that Hill got out of the wrecked vehicle and placed what turned out to be a brass marijuana pipe in the dirt in the median. Hill told officers it had been three days since he'd last smoked marijuana; once in the lab, his THC levels were measured at 5 ng/mL. Hill was convicted of vehicular homicide.

In each case, officers declared that they had probable cause, and a judge seemed to agree.

"If there's not probable cause for impairment, they can't be arrested," says attorney Alex Newhouse. "Smell alone is not enough" for an arrest if I-502 passes, he points out, adding that "no city or county has the resources to do random, roving stops, which are completely illegal. I don't foresee this doomsday scenario the opposition is constantly alluding to."

But while the criticism that pot patients and regular pot users will be arrested en masse for DUIs doesn't seem to pan out, critics of I-502 make an excellent point about drivers under 21. I-502 would establish zero tolerance for any THC in drivers under 21. "Drivers in this age bracket will be guilty of DUI if even the smallest amount of cannabis is found in their system," says the Patients Against I-502 website. In a worst-case scenario, they speculate, "a designated driver subjected to secondhand cannabis smoke would be held criminally liable for the activities of others."

"I-502 doesn't legalize marijuana use for people under 21," confirms I-502 author Holcomb. And it doesn't address authorized patients under 21 who use cannabis for cancer, HIV, etc. Holcomb contends that a debate around the correct levels for driving after consuming marijuana is "relatively new and evolving." She says as science evolves, so can standards for DUI. On the other hand, she says, "Marijuana prohibition is decades old and a proven failure, and it's time to make headway on that front."

But Berman from 4Evergreen says this sets up too many unanswered questions about how many young people will be convicted of DUI and saddled with criminal records. He points out that California's Prop 19 didn't include a THC cutoff for drivers "because these bills were constricted by people who understood that WE DON'T KNOW ENOUGH to set a precedent."

So if we don't know enough to set a precedent, why the controversial 5 ng/mL cutoff?

The first reason is science. The second reason is politics.

The science comes from the abovementioned peer-reviewed studies, through which researchers found that drivers with more than 5 ng/mL of THC have a higher risk for crashes. "At concentrations between 5 and 10 ng/mL approximately 75–90% of the observations were indicative of significant impairment in every performance test," reported Ramaekers et al. in 2006. Likewise, Grotenhermen found in 2005: "The crash risk apparently begins to exceed that of sober drivers as THC concentrations in whole blood reach 5–10 ng/mL." By e-mail, Grotenhermen says that drivers below 5 ng/mL had "no increased accident risk," but that it "considerably increased beyond this concentration." Though he added, "Heavy users may be regarded as impaired when they are not. We are aware of this limitation."

Again, for most users, THC levels drop rapidly after smoking marijuana. Active THC persisting at high levels a day after someone uses marijuana, even someone who depends on medical marijuana, appears highly improbable based on the peer-reviewed science.

As for the politics of the 5 ng/mL cutoff, it turns out that the fatal flaw for California's measure in 2010 may have been that it lacked a DUI provision. In the California voters' guide, the anti-legalization argument read as follows:

Proposition 19 gives drivers the "right" to use marijuana right up to the point when they climb behind the wheel, but unlike as with drunk driving, Proposition 19 fails to provide the Highway Patrol with any tests or objective standards for determining what constitutes "driving under the influence." That's why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) strongly opposes Proposition 19.

A postelection study by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found that, other than a general sentiment against legalizing marijuana, the fear of people smoking and driving was the number-one reason people voted against the California initiative. Thirteen percent of voters said that's why they voted against it.

As noted by the researchers, "Opponents of reform stumbled onto a very powerful argument and, no doubt, learned a valuable lesson apt to be repeated in future debates. Indeed, the belief that a post-legalization world would lead to more accidents on roads and in the workplace emerged as the most powerful predictor of a 'no' vote—by far—in regression analysis."

The truth is, winning legalization is less about science and more about the politics of public safety. Assuaging fears has been vital to the I-502 campaign's strategy. In rounds of polling conducted by New Approach Washington, the sponsoring PAC behind the initiative, they found voters were reluctant to allow home growing (expensive commodities grown in residential neighborhoods increase the likelihood of robbery) and that addressing the DUI issue is vital. If the initiative doesn't address it, lawmakers probably will.

In Colorado, a pot legalization initiative qualified for the ballot last month even though it lacks a provision concerning DUI. How will Colorado handle stoned drivers? A state senate committee there has now advanced a bill that "expands the existing definition of 'DUI per se' to include driving when the driver's blood... contains 5 nanograms or more of [THC] per milliliter in whole blood." That's exactly the same limit in I-502. In other words, when an initiative fails to address DUI for marijuana, legislatures won't let it slide. Instead, they'll turn to the available science—science that shows driving impairment increases at 5 nanograms. Realistically, if pot activists don't include DUI regulations, legislatures will likely do it for them—either before an initiative passes or afterward. And left in the hands of lawmakers, the result could be far worse: They could establish zero tolerance for drivers, for example. So not only are I-502's critics misreading the science, they're misreading the politics.

They are also misreading the court rulings, says Yakima attorney Newhouse. As it stands, Washington State effectively has a zero-tolerance policy for any THC in the blood. As Newhouse explains it, having represented 5 to 10 marijuana DUI cases per year, any THC in the blood is typically used by a judge or jury as sufficient evidence for a conviction.

"It's easy to convict them now," Newhouse says, "but you have patients driving on the road now and [widespread DUI charges against pot patients] are not happening now. Let's stop speculating."

If anything, Newhouse believes setting a limit will help patients avoid convictions. As the numerous previously cited scientific studies show, most people with low levels of THC are well below 5 ng/mL. "The great majority of DUIs I get are under 5 nanograms," Newhouse says. Yet they are convicted anyway. "I-502 would help them. That is the reality."

As it stands, there are plenty of cases in which suspects are convicted of DUIs for having THC levels far below I-502's cutoff. In Seattle Municipal Court, which handles misdemeanors, there were an estimated 165 to 193 marijuana DUIs filed between January 1, 2010, and the end of September 2011. "There are convictions for no active THC," confirms Kimberly Mills, spokeswoman for the Seattle City Attorney's Office.

And, again, strict DUI provisions will help get I-502 passed. A poll last May by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found that the DUI provision alone prompted 62 percent of Washington voters to say they were more likely to support I-502, and only 11 percent said it would make them less likely to support the initiative.

"I think that most people in the state of Washington would say they do not want someone completely high on marijuana driving on the other side of a yellow line from them," says former federal prosecutor and I-502 proponent John McKay. He adds, "If you are medicated, you shouldn't be driving, someone should drive for you or you should take public transit."

The other thing people bring up every time you talk about legalization is federal law. Everyone is taught in school that federal law trumps state law, and the No on I-502 campaign uses this message, too, saying the initiative "will be rendered invalid almost instantaneously given the fact that the initiative is legally faulty and is absolutely not designed to withstand a federal challenge."

However, Holcomb, a former criminal defense attorney, says it is precisely written to withstand a federal challenge. The question at hand is whether regulating the cannabis market creates a "positive conflict" with the Controlled Substance Act—that is, whether it would require state workers to violate federal law. It doesn't require any illegal activity, she says, and she's ready to ride that argument all the way to the US Supreme Court.

Two cases in California have found medical pot regulation (there is zero difference in federal law for medical or nonmedical marijuana) doesn't have a conflict; a third case said it did. The California Supreme Court has yet to rule on the issue.

Already, of the 16 states that allow medical marijuana, seven require regulation and licensing, most notably New Mexico, where state employees actually inspect the marijuana gardens, Holcomb points out. "While you can argue that regulation at the state level could be challenged in court," she says, "the practical reality is that regulation is already happening."

"All the federal government can challenge is licensing or production and distribution," Holcomb continues. Due to a severability clause in the state's Uniform Controlled Substances Act, any part of a law found invalid doesn't affect the rest of the statute. So even if Washington State lost its regulatory authority in federal court, she says, "we would still have the best decriminalization law"—no fine at all for possession—"in the country."

On a practical level, we don't have to worry about federal law overriding decriminalization. Local governments handle 99 percent of all drug cases; federal law enforcement fries only the biggest fish.

"We don't do simple marijuana cultivation or possession cases, it's just not what our office does," says Jenny Durkan, the US Attorney for Western Washington. She only has 72 lawyers in her office, and they focus on major criminal entities.

"The state has the ability to decriminalize or say something is not criminal activity," Durkan adds. "It still remains a crime under federal law, but we are looking at large-scale conspiracies or organization-based crimes. Usually there is some other federal crime like money laundering or power diversion" before the federal government gets involved. "The organizations we look at are moving drugs and money, if not across borders, then across state lines."

The Drug Enforcement Administration is likewise focused on trafficking. "The DEA is not going after someone smoking a joint," says DEA spokeswoman Jodie Underwood. "It is a violation of federal law, but it is not our focus. Our focus is on drug trafficking organizations."

The DEA won't disclose how many agents it has in Washington State, but sources familiar with the local bureau peg the number at about 200. In total, there are an estimated 1,000 federal agents in Washington to handle drugs, terrorism, immigration, and other federal offenses.

However, Jeffrey Steinborn, a marijuana defense attorney who wants the initiative to die, says federal prosecutors will nix most of I-502. "I truly believe that when this law passes, a legal challenge by the Feds will pretty much void all of it, leaving us nothing but a really bad DUI law," he says, even though the DUI law it would leave us with is arguably better than the current DUI law, which allows for convictions below the 5 ng/mL cutoff. Steinborn adds that no business owners in their right mind would register for a state license because the state would be required to hand over that incriminating list to the Feds.

Holcomb, who used to share a law office with Steinborn, disagrees. First off, federal agents wouldn't require a state list to bust a storefront selling marijuana. There's enough evidence—the store is right there in public, it advertises, customers come in and out all day—to bring a case if prosecutors wanted. (Why would they need a list? When asked, Steinborn replied, "I'll need to think about that.")

But the complaint that federal law trumps local law is an effective tool to erode support. Richard Lee, sponsor of the narrowly failed Prop 19 in California, says the delivery of that message was pivotal to his defeat. "We did see the polling right after the drug czar came to town with that message. It was when we went from winning to losing," he says.

"It's disconcerting when your allies adopt their enemies' rhetoric and polemic," says NORML's St. Pierre in DC. "On top of not being well-founded, it is ringing an unnecessary bell of concern and conflict."

What does a former federal prosecutor think? After all, the primary sponsor of I-502, John McKay, used to have the job that would file the lawsuit to stop such an operation.

"They would have to show that the law requires the state to engage in criminal activity," says McKay. "I don't think there is anything in I-502 that requires that. If they can find a positive conflict in the tax and regulation scheme, then they may have a case to throw out I-502. I don't think they do. I also don't believe the federal government would, even though it does have massive discretion in this area. It would have to say that you, the state, are running a criminal enterprise and we are going to arrest you, starting with the governor. That would be an absurd outcome and not what any reasonable person would expect of this administration or any other administration that follows. And I think that would engender public outcry if the Feds tried to exercise discretion that way."

Even if federal prosecutors did, that may be the best possible thing that could happen to marijuana law reform in the United States. Just as the Prop 8 trial in California promoted national discussion about gay marriage on its way to the Supreme Court, pot legalization would escalate as a pressing national issue, the sort of issue that's debated in the New York Times, CNN, local news outlets, and dining rooms across the country.

That's not a drawback—that's the goal.

"If we have to get into a fight with the Department of Justice, then we'll have a full airing of the issues," Holcomb says. "We'll have a close look at the costs and benefits of sticking with the status quo or trying something new. And we'll no longer have to say that's the way it is. We'll be looking at the question of how it could be."

McKay, the former federal prosecutor, was appointed to that position by the George W. Bush administration, though he's now left the GOP. He doesn't smoke pot, although he wants pot legalized for all adults. For him, it's about cutting off air to international cartels. "People are getting shot and killed over the American marijuana market," McKay says. "The real problem with marijuana policy is the black market. It is responsible for pits in Mexico being opened with 40 bodies in it, or bodies being dumped in Guadalajara. The cartels are fighting over the proceeds of the American marijuana market. Sixty percent of their income comes from American marijuana sales."

That's in addition to the pot we grow ourselves. Domestic marijuana is the nation's top cash crop with $35.8 billion in annual domestic pot revenue, according to a 2006 study by Jon Gettman. Washington's pot crop (second only to Washington's apple crop) is one of the five largest in the United States, clocking in at just over $1 billion a year.

"That means the money is not being captured, in fact, it's just being exploited by criminals," McKay says. "That's the real danger."

NORML outreach director Russ Belville agrees with McKay, although with much angrier rhetoric toward the medical marijuana activists who now take issue with full legalization. When medical marijuana activist Mimi Meiwes wrote in a comment on The Stranger's blog that full-legalization advocates want to make medical marijuana patients "sacrificial lambs now, so you can have a little bit of smoke in your pocket," Belville wrote back that

while you and other states' medical marijuana patients have been largely left alone while smoking copious amounts of weed, 13 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana and 50,000 Mexicans have been murdered (10% of them beheaded/tortured) and left in the streets with banners taunting law enforcement. Juarez's entire 2,600 man police force just had to move out of their homes and into a highly secured hotel with their families because of drug gang assassinations that killed five cops as they came home from work to their families.

But the cartels, which are constantly moving cocaine north and marijuana south through the I-5 corridor, are not talked about much in the local debate. Other issues—the prices pot would reach when taxed, the fact that I-502 has out-of-state contributors, the strict liability standard about DUI—are far more present on people's minds. But big money and legal compromises aren't insane, historically: They have been key to the marijuana movement's success up until now, success that includes the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries. The medical marijuana law passed in 1998, thanks to Americans for Medical Rights funneling more than half a million dollars into Washington State for things like TV commercials and glossy mailers. That was funded largely by Soros and Lewis, the same people behind I-502. Thanks to their dough, 58 percent of voters legalized medical marijuana that year. Now they are back to tackle more of prohibition.

After being marginalized for decades, the pot-legalization movement is finally positioned to win. Yet now that the institutional leaders who the countercultural grassroots have been courting for decades are actually on their side, the countercultural grassroots are starting to act a little... paranoid. True, the medical marijuana industry has valid complaints on idealistic grounds—everyone should be allowed to grow pot at home, taxes on gardens seem dumb, DUI suspects deserve a strong court defense to prove they weren't impaired—but many of the fears they are spreading appear unsubstantiated upon practical scrutiny. Trustworthy studies don't show "all" pot smokers—even heavy smokers—would lose their right to drive. They show users drop below the THC cutoff several hours after smoking pot and people above that cutoff have a greater risk of crashing. Medical marijuana rules for growing and using wouldn't change at all (it's worth remembering that the dispensary market technically isn't even legal under state or federal law as things currently stand). And while taxing pot would subject the industry to potentially Byzantine regulations, that simply puts it on equal footing with lots of products: Name a valuable commodity that isn't micromanaged (alcohol, tobacco, fuel... even corn). We're not allowed to distill gin at home either, remember?

"Rest assured that not all patients and people involved in the medical marijuana business are against this initiative," says Muraco Kyashna-tocha, director of Green Buddha Patient Co-op in Ravenna. "I am completely in support of the initiative. I believe that we need to legalize marijuana. It's completely insane for it to be illegal when a huge portion of this state is already using it. The economic boon to the state would be incredible. Having that sort of support for the economy would be phenomenal."

Why does Kyashna-tocha think so many dispensary operators are against I-502? "People in dispensaries and the medical marijuana industry could find themselves in positions where they are fiscally fragile. If this initiative passes, Green Buddha could go out of business, because what would be the need for a medical marijuana dispensary? But I believe that the help for the economy would be such that people could find a job in some other business" or working in some other capacity within the marijuana industry. "I believe there will be other jobs available."

Even if you take all the anti-I-502 concerns seriously, it still comes down to a choice: continue arresting thousands of pot smokers annually or take the risk on an unproven drawback for a small handful of drivers pulled over with active THC in their blood. The choice will be simple for most voters on the other side of the highway yellow line.

Then again, if I-502 fails, it won't be until 2016, the next presidential election year, that a progressive enough electorate will line up at the polls for pot legalization. So that's about 40,000 more pot arrests in Washington—again, a disproportionate number of them racial minorities—and more bodies dumped in Guadalajara, while activists wait for their perfect initiative, the type of compromise-free, idealistic progressive legislation that is unlikely to ever pass. Alcohol laws aren't perfect, either, which is why lawmakers and the liquor board tweak them every year. Rules for a regulated marijuana market stand to be equally fluid.

And by the way, medical marijuana dispensaries are better situated than any other entities to become the licensed pot growers, distributors, and store operators that I-502 foresees for Washington State. Those businesses already have the mechanisms in place, the know-how, and the expertise—all of which they've built without any kind of arrest protection in place. If the primary goal is protecting medical marijuana patients, there's only one initiative qualified for this November's ballot that would protect them from arrest: I-502. recommended

This article has been updated since its original publication.


Comments (140) RSS

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I want to go on record my name is Joe and I am the owner of Urban Roots and as the owner of Urban Roots my company nor myself agree with what Michael Lick has said in this article. He has spoken on behalf of my business without permission from myself and it is completely out of line.

We do not agree with the way our state has gone about recreational legalization in regards to medical cannabis. We have served sick and dying people for over four years and I am now being told that I will have to close my business and send all my patients to a state run store that dose not take the proper precautions for people who are sick and have compromised immune systems or truly care about the wellbeing of their patients. I am by no means a greedy person or only after money I have been helping people my whole life and this was my way of providing a truly medical approach to medical cannabis by testing everything for potency to insure proper dosage, we only accepted cannabis from our community garden to make sure no pesticides or harmful chemicals, we specialize in highest quality not whatever we can afford. Washington state has voted to remove state run liquor stores but we think a state run pot store is going to be a better idea? The medical cannabis community has set a standard for ourselves and the few of us that have been aroundas long as we have are oobviously doing something correct or we would not be here still in business. The state should have taken taken a look at Colorado and just integrated our medical access points to I502 approved stores and started collecting tax money immediately.
Again Michael Lick is no way connected with Urban Roots anymore and I apologize for the misrepresentation. His views are his views not ours
Posted by UrbanRoots on June 2, 2014 at 11:36 AM · Report this
People...politics takes time. The first step is NEVER perfect.

We ended alcohol prohibition by starting with 3.2% beer. No bourbon, no wine, no brewpubs, and certainly no home brewing. We have to be realistic. The mainstream voters vital to any initiative's passage wouldn't touch the kind free-for-all legalization you demand.

502 is the best chance we have to get the ball rolling on the all encompassing legalization you claim to support.

Failing to vote for this initiative will make it MORE difficult, not less, to legalize home growing, allow non-commercial gifting, remove penalties for the possession of quantities greater than 1 oz, and treat under 21 possession like alcohol.

Realistic expectations pass laws. Undiluted idealism alienates important voters.

Vote YES on I-502
Posted by YES on 502 on October 1, 2012 at 6:11 PM · Report this
Wow...so much stupidity. These anti502ers make the people against it for religious reasons look reasonable. Who would've seen that coming?
Posted by sensible right wing progress on August 17, 2012 at 7:53 PM · Report this
Criticisms against I-502 are legitimate. Why in the world must there be a 3-tier system? The costs of starting a cannabis business under I-502 are prohibitively high, shutting out less connected people in favor of the well-connected and well-financed. I-502 is the wrong model, and unfortunately, a competing petition drive seeks nearly unregulated legalization that the Washington legislature could over-regulate too.
Posted by Freedomist on July 12, 2012 at 9:48 PM · Report this
The key thing to understand is that neither side is telling the truth. This won't be a vote on the legalization of marijuana. It will be a vote on who gets the profits that emanate from keeping it illegal.

On one side is the dispensaries, which want it to be illegal without a bullshit medical marijuana certificate. On the other side is the referendum, which want it to be illegal to grow your own instead of buying it from the state cartel at a 10-fold markup.

Each side is pursuing its own self-interest, using the law as the enforcer of a monopoly. Either way you vote, you're endorsing corruption and lies. Myself, I'm thinking I will skip this one.
Posted by Mister G on June 3, 2012 at 9:39 PM · Report this
Having read through all of these comments -- although I am not lucky enough to live any longer in a state that is given the privilege to vote on this bill (I left Washington many years ago, more by necessity than choice) -- I must say that I find the arguments against passing this bill to be, in the main, partisan and narcissistic. The Bill's imperfections are obvious, both from the scientific (proof of impairment should be a requirement for any DUI prosecution) and the humanist perspectives (yes, people should be allowed -- nay, encouraged -- to grown marijuana in their gardens or basements). But the proponents are surely right to stress that these are matters for future remediation, and that the defeat of this bill would be a terrible tragedy, not just for the state of Washington, not just for consumers of cannabis, both medical and recreational, but for the hopes for a better and more just world. Please people -- vote for those of us who can't. Vote yes on this initiative.
Posted by psi on June 2, 2012 at 11:19 PM · Report this
You didn't look very hard for a study showing how long it takes for THC to lower in the blood. I found this with a quick Google search: http://www.ndci.org/sites/default/files/…

In a recent forensic publication, Dr. Marilyn
Huestis wrote: “Monitoring acute cannabis
usage with a commercial cannabinoid
immunoassay with a 50-ng/mL cutoff concentration provides only a narrow window of
detection of 1–2 days,”
Posted by Wendy420 on April 18, 2012 at 9:49 AM · Report this
People like Mister G need to smoke better weed and more often - what a bitch he is.
Posted by American Patriot on April 4, 2012 at 6:38 PM · Report this
American Patriot, free coffee? Tell it to Starbucks, you stoner idiot.
Posted by Mister G on March 30, 2012 at 12:53 AM · Report this
People should not make brash statements without proof. Prove with science that people driving on THC cause more accidents? Where is the study, the research the science?

If you can't show the world your proof then quit making brash assertions like people need to be tested for THC in order to make our roads safer.
Posted by American Patriot on March 26, 2012 at 11:37 PM · Report this
When was the last time a traffic fatality was caused because someone was high on cannabis? Never, hasn't happened. The problem us cannabis smokers have with this 502 initiative is people like Dominic Holden compare pot to alcohol - They are NOT THE SAME!

Most people drive better when using cannabis AND people know when they are too stoned to drive. How do they know? Because when you are too stoned to drive you are out of your body and out of your mind. Driving is the last thing to be concerned about - too stoned, have to drive, not going to happen.

Who are any of you supporters of 502 to tell the rest of the world that we are too stoned to drive? Have you ever caused an accident while driving stoned? Do you drive better when stoned?

Why should we pay TAXES on something we do not have to pay taxes on now?

502 is not legalizing marijuana!!! It means that people will have to deal with more, not less, government agencies: police,taxes,licencing, dep't of agriculture, state liquor board, and on and on.

FREE the WEED - don't put it into a box where the gangs that run our governments can get their GREEDY hands on our sacred herb.

Cannabis should be free like any other commodity such as coffee. Bought and sold and given away freely like a cup of Joe.

VOTE NO on 502!!!

American Patriot
Posted by American Patriot on March 23, 2012 at 2:40 PM · Report this
I-502 is not legalization. If marijuana were legalized in the way that alcohol has been legalized, it would be legal to grow your own, and to sell the materials for doing so, including seeds and plants.

Here's the problem: If that was actually done, prices would collapse, and so would the hopes of significant tax revenue.

The cost of growing one's own is 1/25th, or less, than the current "dispensary" price. Enough people, and especially the heavy users, would grow their own that the prices for those who bought commercially would collapse.

No way will the state go for that, so instead we see things like I-502, which places an absurdly low cap on personal possession, and retains criminal penalties for doing the equivalent of brewing your own beer without a license.

Until I can go to my neighborhood nursery and buy marijuana seeds and plants, any "legalization" proposal is a sham erected mainly to prop up prices while letting state governments in on the action.
Posted by Mister G on March 20, 2012 at 6:47 PM · Report this
This war on drugs thing has failed long ago and I believe it is time for this country to move into the twenty first century by using common sense again. Long over the days should be for locking up 1/2 the general public for mere possesion. Even though it has not been taxed among the dealor/brother/pusher....etc. it has taxed this nation into oblivion in our judicial circuit. I believe it is long overdue for A new approach on the matter and all the shit I just read hear is the whole reason I smoke it in the first place....."s t r e s s e d o u t ! " OMG...THIS WAS A BOOK...NOT AN ARTICLE....FUKITALREADY...WE WON THEY LOST....JUST DO IT....LEGALIZE THE CANNABIS AND FIGURE OUT THE DETAILS AS WE GO YOU BUNCH OF STUPID NON DOPESMOKEING ASSHOLES.
Posted by greatamericansmokeoutof76 on March 19, 2012 at 8:51 PM · Report this
ladycentaur 127
it is a good idea that has maybe finely come to pass but yes maybe it needs to be fine tuned. states would make a fortune on taxes on the sale of it. I live in Oregon but plan on moving back to Washington soon for a job. I have family and friends there that use. I agree, good idea, bad wording.
Posted by ladycentaur on March 14, 2012 at 5:35 AM · Report this
126 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
slade 125

Munch Bush

Bolivia, the biggest cocaine producer after Peru and Colombia, has been trying to promote coca's health benefits and develop legal uses for coca leaves.

Bolivians have chewed the leaves for centuries as a mild stimulant that reduces hunger and altitude sickness, and
Morales has asked the UN to decriminalize the traditional practice.

"We are very much aware of the damage that can be done by cocaine and we are working against drug trafficking ... but we want the recognition of these ancestral rights," Morales said
Posted by slade http://www.youtube.com/user/guppygator on March 13, 2012 at 10:27 AM · Report this
Some of the opponents of 502 remind me of Nader supporters in 2000. They didn't want the moderate Gore. They wanted someone much Greener. So instead we had eight years of Bush, who was one of the worst Presidents for the environment (or anything else for that matter). Meanwhile, the "not quite Green enough" Gore goes on to enlighten the general public about the worst environmental threat (or long term threat in general) of our time. The profound political ignorance of those who want the perfect instead of the good always astounds me.

Thank God that the gay rights leadership doesn't feel this way. Otherwise, we wouldn't have civil unions (because, after all, we all know that civil unions will only reduce our chances of getting gay marriage). Civil unions aren't great, but at least they are a step in the right direction, as is this bill.

Pass the law and we will amend it later. Worse case scenario we send a clear message to Washington D. C.. If it fails, only the political wonks will say it was because a few cannabis proponents weren't happy with the bill. Most will say it was because the country just isn't ready (or simply doesn't want) legalized marijuana.
Posted by Ross on March 13, 2012 at 9:48 AM · Report this
tharp42 123
Finally, we get a proposition for legalization that actually has a decent chance of passing, and the biggest opposition comes from the medical marijuana crowd? You can all go fuck yourselves. This law is looking after EVERYONE, not just the poor patients and their sellers. A vote against it is a vote for putting pot smokers behind bars, just because you don't want to lose your own privileges and profits. And Michael Lick sounds like a champion douche. He can lick my sack.
Posted by tharp42 on March 12, 2012 at 10:51 PM · Report this
122 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
Wow, simply astounding! It really *IS* about money, not “medicine”! What a bunch of douche bags.
Posted by Arthur Zifferelli on March 12, 2012 at 2:26 PM · Report this
Legalize it to full on commercial enterprise. The State of Washington is known world-wide for our incredibly powerful advanced strains of marijuana. It has been this way for several decades. I have not seen a seed since 1975.

The money is immense and harmless. I see bio-domes in Woodinville growing highly advanced strains to perfection created in scientific greenhouses at St. Michelle. And high level competition is immense.

The price of product is pretty well set as i feel our current illegal market sets a good price. Say an oz. of St. Michelle premium growth sells at $500. It is worth every penny. Not possible for an individual to smoke that in a month. Otherwise, you are smoking too much pot!

So, $250 of that amount is to tax. $250 provides grower and retailer profit. Tax it heavy. don't wimp out on this deal.

The tourist industry in the NW should be cashed in on. Visit Seattle and legally smoke the finest herb possible anywhere in the universe... have stoner tours where you wake and bake and get a nice breakfast at a local cool eatery, the to the Market (and freshen up while walking) and see an art house film then see a band afterwards then go back to your hotel downtown and bake and watch TV for a minute and zzzzz. Start the next day with a latte. See the Sounders that night. Get back to your hotel to see the films of the game on the news. Seattle's Best??? We'll show ya... The State Tourism people should be all over this one and pushing for legalization....

The medicinal marijuana is a good thing. Advancements need to be made there in dispensing and perscribing proper amounts in need for said ailment perscribed for. We are the Guini Pigs (in a good way) to advance medical usage of such.

Douglas Mays/NewSoul Enterprises
Posted by amaysing on March 11, 2012 at 3:47 PM · Report this
Anything shy of no limits to quantity,quality,and method of cannabis cultivation is NOT compatible with the facts.Cannabis isn't ethanol,and shouldn't be treated like it (or like Heroin or cocaine,for that matter!)YOU CAN'T PATENT A PLANT,THAT'S WHY BIG PHARMA -CUNTROLLED DEA IS SUCH A HARD-ASS ABOUT GANJA!!!(Pfft!!!)
Posted by 5th Columnist on March 10, 2012 at 4:32 PM · Report this
I-502 is not a re-legalization initiative:it is a decriminalization initiative.If you want to see a true re-legalization initiative,then investigate the one in Montana (or Colorado,for that matter!)http://legalize2012.com
Posted by 5th Columnist on March 10, 2012 at 4:29 PM · Report this
Change is needed! People are dying in Mexico, and cartels are spending everyone's money.

and also...

Fuck a doctor's recommendation.

Posted by mL peabody on March 10, 2012 at 9:44 AM · Report this
undead rand - GET A LIFE-- this isn't about you and your opinion. which as a whole YOURE THE ONE LOOKING LIKE A DOUCHEBAG! - take a look at your profile comments - who are you trying to impress? get a mirror!
Posted by Politics_Patrol on March 9, 2012 at 10:02 PM · Report this
Incarceration is expensive to the tax payer. I wonder how much our state would save if our jails weren't being used to detain marijuana users.
Posted by Simone Grey on March 9, 2012 at 8:24 PM · Report this
And yes I posted it twice with differentversions because Im stoned. Better not get behind the wheel.
Posted by PanWhale on March 9, 2012 at 6:22 PM · Report this
You pulled a lot of wool by straw manning the DUI provision as the main problem. The main problem is that basically only a limited amount of companies can grow and sell pot legally. All the simple possession charges for people that will go away don't mean shit when I as a potsmoker will be paying way more for crappy pot. But more importantly, the fact that people like me can only legally get expensive, crappy pot, will LEAVE THE BLACK MARKET IN PLACE for cheaper crappy pot or expensive good pot. So you still have cartels and people getting busted for growing good homegrown. This solves nothing. It makes a small supply of shitty pot a state industry and frees up resources to go after growers of plants. This doesn't legalize SHIT. I want to be able to grow a garden of pot in my fucking basement and smoke it. Until then, I'll vote with the option that leaves me out of jail and with the best pot. And that option would be the status quo. This law does nothing to distinguish between peaceful, crunchy, enlightened, friendly, positive, socially-active growers of pot and angry, violent, horrific people who run drug cartels and capitalists. Yours, Responsible Pot Love
Posted by PanWhale on March 9, 2012 at 6:21 PM · Report this
You pulled a lot of wool by straw manning the DUI provision as the main problem. The main problem is that basically only a limited amount of companies can grow and sell pot legally. All the simple possession charges for people that will go away don't mean shit when I as a potsmoker will be paying way more for crappy pot. But more importantly, the fact that people like me can only legally get expensive, crappy pot, will LEAVE THE BLACK MARKET IN PLACE for cheaper crappy pot or expensive good pot. So you still have cartels and people getting busted for growing good homegrown. This solves nothing. It makes shitty pot a state industry. And the DUI is still a bit of a concern.
Posted by PanWhale on March 9, 2012 at 5:55 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 111
"you imply that the whole mmj industry is a sham for $$$"

I'm saying that their political motivations and willingness to lie about the initiative indicate care for their continued employment over the concerns of their patients, who shouldn't have to be put through these hoops to medicate.

Not all are lying, there's plenty to discuss, but there's more than a fair share of people just making shit up outright here, and I find that distressing.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 9, 2012 at 3:24 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 110
@106: "youre here to Troll other people"

No, I'm here to roll my eyes at you when you lie and fabricate disinformation.

"you make claims about the Mafia in your last statement"

Which obviously flew over your head.

"Let me guess you dont have a job, you just have a computer and prob you're on welfare & sitting around your apt and over stuffing your mouth!?"

Ah, nice to see such a classist douchebag supporting his own grey market over the right of ANYONE to self-medicate. I bet you've even got "DRUG TEST FOR WELFARE" or something so shitheaded on your facebook.

Look, you don't have to like me, but if you're going to go apeshit over I-502, use facts. Not rhetoric. What you (as in the majority of anti-502-ers) claim is in I-502 isn't. Stop lying, stop taking the word of whatever people in your clinic's administration as fact.

It isn't, and my reminding you of that isn't "trolling".
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 9, 2012 at 3:22 PM · Report this
I've been reading everything i can about i-502. I will be voting yes in november.
Posted by tiddlystymied on March 9, 2012 at 3:09 PM · Report this
Thanks for your post, I did not know that you could get that so easy at Hempfest. I think for the most part though the mm doctors would like to see some medical paperwork to back up your story, and that does require time and money.
Posted by nmoses on March 9, 2012 at 3:00 PM · Report this
I've been following 1-502 for awhile, reading as much as i can on it. I'll be voting yes come november.
Posted by tiddlystymied on March 9, 2012 at 2:59 PM · Report this
a.rand its not about arguing with you... youre here to Troll other people. You insight that some don't care about Patients & just money..you make claims about the Mafia in your last statement..I don't think you have even read the I-502 bill and are here to harass others on the forums..making you a Troll. I work with Patients... I see them every day.. I don't see dollar signs, I see people who need help. Guys with two fisted canes, a woman who just had both breasts removed because of cancer and is on chemotherapy whos about to get sick and throw up if she doesnt get her meds..People with Epilepsy, people with PTSD, people with Crohn's Disease, Hep-C, L4 & L5 Surgery, people who have real legit claims for the use of MMJ. I see people with all sorts of disorders and ailments..which to what you imply is these people are not real patients..you imply that the whole mmj industry is a sham for $$$.. Well i have seen both sides..the people I work with truly care about the Patients 100%. Whatta you care about... tracking Forum posts so you can berate others. Let me guess you dont have a job, you just have a computer and prob you're on welfare & sitting around your apt and over stuffing your mouth!? You should Post once and comment about the article...I looked at your Profile ..its full of TROLL COMMENTS.. dude ..get a life.. better yet.. go end yours for us all. Either contribute or piss off! [99.99% Chance that A.Rand cant help himself but comment on this one - He just cant help himself..] A.Rand go suck a turd...and STFU
Posted by HelpingNW-Patients on March 9, 2012 at 2:19 PM · Report this
Reminder: Decriminalization = change from criminal offense to civil infraction (still unlawful, but instead of a court summons, you get a citation that you can probably pay in the mail, and you're considered guilty as charged until proved innocent -- you've no right to jury trial). Legalization = change from unlawful to lawful.

I don't know anyone who wants possession of cannabis decriminalized. We want to make it legal. We shouldn't lock people in cages because they're found with this plant, and we shouldn't take their money because of it, either.
Posted by Phil M http://https://twitter.com/pmocek on March 9, 2012 at 12:59 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 104
@103: Yeah, the Mafia sure is making a killing off of alcohol these days.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 9, 2012 at 8:54 AM · Report this
Marijuana legalization will do nothing to stop the cartels from killing people. They will always find a drug to illegally sell to millions of Americans. And as long as they are in business people are going to get killed.
Posted by WestClaw on March 9, 2012 at 8:39 AM · Report this
This is exactly what I've been telling folks! Wow! Finally someone else has written about whats really going on in the Mmj movement...Doninic Holden Thank You for validation. Now if someone would only take a closer look at Seattle Hempfest/Seattle Events they will find the needed drug trafficing accross State lines and money laundering!
Posted by Calico-Insight on March 9, 2012 at 8:33 AM · Report this
John Horstman 101
In Washington State's unlikely turnabout, it's not the conservative right and law-enforcement officials who are leading the charge to stop legalization. It is the progressive left, at war with itself.

I think this is a misrepresentation. The opposition to I-502 is coming from people with serious profit interests and heavy investments in their own marijuana-use privilege. Neither of those sound like Progressive ideals, they sound like pro-market/pro-corporate and pro-privilege ideals: Neo-liberals.
Posted by John Horstman on March 9, 2012 at 8:20 AM · Report this
John Horstman 100
"I feel that cannabis is a medicine," Lick explains. "If people are using cannabis without a doctor's recommendation, the same thing should happen as if you were using any medication without prescription... you get arrested for possession." (For the record: If we did treat pot like pharmaceutical drugs used without a prescription, the penalty would become more severe, increasing possession to a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.)

Um, does this asshat not realize that there are OTC medicines that don't require prescriptions? One doesn't get arrested for using ANY medicine w/o a prescription, one get's arrested (well, frequently not in practice) for possessing/using prescription drugs w/o a prescription (I think Dominic means "prescription drugs" instead of "pharmaceutical drugs"; OTC medications are pharmaceuticals too). Seriously, Diphenhydramine (HCl) (Benadryl) inhibits alertness and response times and is more toxic than THC, and we sell that over the counter. Just because something is medicine doesn't mean it a) should require a prescription and b) shouldn't be used recreationally. Ditch the rationalizations, asshole: just say you want to keep prohibition in place so you can make a bunch of money off of it.
Posted by John Horstman on March 9, 2012 at 8:13 AM · Report this
John Horstman 99
TL;DR version of the opposition position: "I can already smoke as much weed as I like thanks to medical marijuana laws, and I don't want to extend this privilege to anyone else if there's any risk that I might get a DUI due to a legal ambiguity around the impact of the initiative on intoxication standards for medical-marijuana-prescription-holders."

Fuck. You.

In no way, shape, or form do you have a legal right nor necessity to drive, ever. EVEN IF I-502 would make it so that no one who ever smoked pot could ever (legally) drive, IT WOULD STILL BE A MASSIVE STEP FORWARD. And, of course, if the DUI standard proved to be problematic (don't know about that until it's tried) and unscientific (it almost certainly is), that can be changed relatively easily after the fact. Getting a legalization measure passed in the first place is the big hurdle.
Posted by John Horstman on March 9, 2012 at 8:00 AM · Report this
Watch this and spread the movie: http://youtu.be/6jO_ncXj7RE
Posted by mipbar on March 9, 2012 at 8:00 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 97
@94: If MM patients actually cared about medical uses and truly believed in the safety of cannabis, they'd allow others to self-medicate without going through this unnecessary hassle.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 9, 2012 at 7:48 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 96
@90: "Danno & a.rand are either paid trolls..or just idiots. go to their profiles.. its proof."

Hahahahahahaahaha way to admit that you can't argue against any of my points. Just another angry medical shill who can't reconcile what his office is TELLING him that I-502 will bring versus what it actually states.

Your industry is systemically lying to its employees, and that is pathetic.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 9, 2012 at 7:46 AM · Report this
GlamB0t 95
@71 I see your point. It still seems like this law is set up to fill the holes from people arrested because of possession with people arrested for a DUI. That is something that makes me leery.

Regionally, I don't believe the SPD has officers who are capable of making decisions that might insist a blood test due to possible marijuana use or possession. They've been trained that drugs = jail. Changing the mindset of the police force can only come from 100% decriminalization. This seems like a vail of decriminalization with a whiff of "you're still fucked!"
Posted by GlamB0t on March 9, 2012 at 7:31 AM · Report this
@88 "t takes a lot of medical paperwork to get a mm prescription, and that means lots of visits to the doctors office."

Or an 11 minute wait at Hempfest. ....

Posted by edgardiazrocks on March 9, 2012 at 6:24 AM · Report this
It is ridiculous to listen to the people who make money off of medical marijuana argue with the people who just want pot decriminalized. My father owns a small fencing company. One of his competitors, who had been severely underbidding jobs and stealing work from him for years, finally went out of business. What did they do? They started selling medical marijuana. Not because they cared about the issue, they did it solely for the money. As do thousands of doctors, lawyers, and other opportunists, who do not want to see marijuana legalized because it will cut into their profit. A lot of the people who make money off of medical marijuana will tell you that they have supported marijuana reform for years, but you don't support this law? Give me a break. I believe that this article failed to mention the most important reason this law needs to pass. Anybody with any common sense knows that if in this country alcohol and cigarettes are legal then marijuana should be too. I believe that right now when it comes to drugs there is a gray area... marijuana. There is a huge difference between marijuana and cocaine, heroine, methamphetamine, etc. Drugs are black and white, get rid of the gray area. Oh and I am pretty sure that are country could use the tax dollars that would be made from marijuana legalization, I just don't know if there is anyone in the government that knows how to save them. Reply to: s_pohlman@yahoo.com
Posted by WestClaw on March 9, 2012 at 4:26 AM · Report this
It is ridiculous listening to the people who make money off of medical marijuana argue with the people who just want pot decriminalized. My father owns a small fencing company and one of his competitors who had been under bidding and stealing jobs from him for years finally went out of business, so what did they do? They started selling medical marijuana. Not because they care about the issue, they did it solely for the money. As do thousands of doctors, lawyers, and other opportunists who do not want this law to pass simply because it cuts into their profit. These people are honestly trying to tell me that they have supported marijuana reform for most of their adult lives, but they don't support this law because they are worried about a DUI... give me a break. They used to care about the issue, now they care about money. This article does not bring up what I believe to be the most important reason we need to have marijuana legalized. When it comes to drugs it is not black and white, there is a gray area known as marijuana. Anyone with any common sense knows that if alcohol and cigarettes are legal, the same should apply to marijuana. It is a huge difference between marijuana and cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ect. Drugs are black and white get rid of the gray area.
Posted by WestClaw on March 9, 2012 at 3:44 AM · Report this
watchout5 91
"when an initiative fails to address DUI for marijuana, legislatures won't let it slide."

That's really sad. Someone should go to jail because they are impaired, politicians are desperate to lock up anything and anyone for any reason. Amazing article. Anyone voting no this November on this initiative is a fool and should feel at least a little guilt that in over-protecting A MOTHERFUCKING PLANT will continue to kill way more innocent people than the SPD could ever dream of.
Posted by watchout5 http://www.overclockeddrama.com on March 9, 2012 at 3:12 AM · Report this
Danno & a.rand are either paid trolls..or just idiots. go to their profiles.. its proof.
Posted by DannoAynRand-Conspiracy on March 9, 2012 at 2:42 AM · Report this
@81 - i was wondering when that particular argument would come up. as someone who claimed, and was backed up by friends, that i was a great driver when stoned and then got in an accident because i was too high to pay attention to my driving when i lost my cheese puff... just no. this is a leotarded idea that stoners have to convince themselves that there is nothing wrong with doing something that is dangerous and stupid. people ARE impaired when they drive stoned. they're not as impaired as drunk drivers, but they still shouldn't operate a motor vehicle.
Posted by smart stoner on March 8, 2012 at 10:55 PM · Report this
Screw you and the horse you rode in on, which is obviously some kind of muntant clydesdale because your head is up in the clouds. Who are you or anyone else to say which people need the medicine and who doesn't. There are many reasons to use marijuana, and not all of them are physical or totally verifiable. It takes a lot of medical paperwork to get a mm prescription, and that means lots of visits to the doctors office. What about the millions of people that can't afford heath insurance? They shouldn't be allowed to medicate themselves with the product of this plant. How many of your fellow mm patients use their medicine when they "need" to as opposed to when they "want" to? What's ironic is that I also oppose this bill for different reasons obviously, but your reasoning sounds to be based around the fact that your a pretenious, short-sighted, bigot. Come back down to earth with the rest of us.
Posted by nmoses on March 8, 2012 at 7:06 PM · Report this
Here's what I hear from the frothy anti-502 crowd. "I'm with you, maybe I smoke too, I like puppies and I can pretend to know a lot about the law. We'll ignore all the ample evidence that with the sole exception of Seattle there is little protection for users, medical or otherwise. Yes, this law makes a substantial improvement. Vote no."

Please, teach me how to.speak so effectively out of both sides of my mouth to formulate a crass wedge issue that benefits a narrow monied interest. Did you also get some cash from the liquor industry? I hear that they also don't like losing profits.

Fortunately most washingtonians will see through your prattle and noise and like me and my friends will vote for this IMPROVEMENT to our legal regime. We will vote YES because we can and it is best.
Posted by Xrock on March 8, 2012 at 4:49 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 86
@85: "He's been telling medical marijuana users in our building that I-502 would force them to have their names entered into some kind of registry that could be made available to the feds for prosecution."

There is nothing mentioned about a registry for medical or nonmedical users in I-502.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 8, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
Question for Dominic:

One of the aforementioned pot lawyers (who shall remain unnamed) has been promoting an anti I-502 fear that I assumed, because of his legal expertise, was founded. After reading your article I'm not so sure. He's been telling medical marijuana users in our building that I-502 would force them to have their names entered into some kind of registry that could be made available to the feds for prosecution. It's hard for me to imagine that if I-502 becomes as easy to purchase as alcohol that businesses will be maintaining exhaustive lists of their clients. Can you verify the differences in patient/consumer confidentiality, if their are any, between the existing laws and those put forward by I-502? Love to end this fear-mongering hype.

Posted by TBne on March 8, 2012 at 1:59 PM · Report this
@75 - You can't really say how much it costs because that cost varies. For example, if you're going thousands of plants, economies of scale dictate that your per ounce cost will be lower than if you were growing 3-4 plants. Also, your first few crops will be more expensive because you had to invest in fixed costs like lighting and irrigation that you won't have to invest in again for later costs.

Doesn't matter though, it's irrelevant. The important point is this: it's profitable enough to sell marijuana illegally for $400/ounce that thousands of people are doing it as we speak. In fact, we can probably assume that you can actually turn a worthwhile profit selling it illegally for some unknowable amount less than $400.

So, lets say that because of taxes and business costs under I-502 it ends up legal marijuana costs $600-700 ounce. Well then, people who are willing to break the law and sell it for $400/ounce now will continue doing that since people would prefer to pay $400/ounce instead of $700/ounce. You will continue buying it from them and be no worse for the wear (well, significantly better actually since there's no risk you'll be arrested for possession if I-502 passes).

The only way legalizing marijuana will work is if the legal market undercuts the black market, and the only way that can happen is if the end retail price of legal marijuana is low enough that people will choose to pay it instead of the black market prices.
Posted by Danno on March 8, 2012 at 12:04 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 83
@81: "A friend of mine can ride a unicycle while juggling 3 clubs and balancing a spinning bicycle wheel on his head straight after a fat blunt... If cannabis impairs driving ability, I'm Willie Nelson."

Saying this and unverified anecdotes doesn't make it true. I trust(ed) Jimi Hendrix to be stoned as shit while playing an AMAZINGLY technical guitar riff, but that niche technical ability doesn't equate to being an alert and conscious driver.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 8, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 82
And on re-read "Most of us can barely afford to keep our stores open after the raids."

Ah, it comes out. You're worried about legal competition, not "stoners".
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 8, 2012 at 11:48 AM · Report this
A friend of mine can ride a unicycle while juggling 3 clubs and balancing a spinning bicycle wheel on his head straight after a fat blunt... If cannabis impairs driving ability, I'm Willie Nelson.
Posted by Kurt Siegfried on March 8, 2012 at 11:47 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 80
@78: "This is a scheme made up by the recreational users and the cops to take our medicine from us."

I-502 doesn't alter existing medical protections.

Keep making things up, though. It's really convincing anyone who's actually read it.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 8, 2012 at 11:24 AM · Report this
no on 1502!

It's written by lawyers, cops, and recreational users that want to take our medicine away from us and put us medical industry entrepreneurs in jail. Most of us can barely afford to keep our stores open after the raids.
Marijuana should be for medical use ONLY. Everyone else is just a stoner.
Posted by KindBuds4ME on March 8, 2012 at 11:16 AM · Report this
no on i502!

This is a scheme made up by the recreational users and the cops to take our medicine from us.
Marijuana is for patients, not stoners!
Posted by KindBuds4ME on March 8, 2012 at 11:08 AM · Report this
Thank you for this balanced article, on the whole Mr. Holden. While you have certainly made the case for the rationale and what little hard imparment and prosecution information is available for the DUI part, you have glossed over the negatives in other areas. I too was against this primarily due to the DUI, as well as a lack of a provision for small non-commercial homegrows.

It would have been more helpful to explore the issues surrounding small non-commercial homegrows a little more. People can brew small quantites of wine and beer for personal consumption, and I don't see anyone advocating for that regarding MJ. That does not mean it won't happen, but you have to look at the composition of the WSLCB. You could have asked some of them what their opinion of that is, should this initative pass. Also, will someone register that high a level of active THC from secondhand exposure?

I also agree with the other posters about non-medical sourcing not being addressed, which is related to the small homegrow prohibition. It does little to alter the narco dynamic.

Utimately, we can only decide how to vote based upon the available information. You did a good job of covering most of it. At this point, even with it's flaws I am leaning towards voting yes. Those dispensaries arguing against this in their own self-interest are not very persuasive.
Posted by Nemo on March 8, 2012 at 10:50 AM · Report this
pfffter 76
@73 If they show observable impairment, then yes, they would still be subject to DUI.
Posted by pfffter on March 8, 2012 at 10:32 AM · Report this
@69, Can you please show where you found that the cost of producing cannabis is that cheap? I can show you where the numbers come for expensive cannabis under I-502.

Let's say you are correct and cannabis will now be sold by the grower for $50 per ounce (that's after the processors have been paid and the grower makes a bit of profit for the labor involved). After the 25% tax, the total would be $62.50.

Now it goes to the distributor, who will do a markup to cover costs and overhead as well. Lets round it to the nearest dollar and give them a $10 profit (now the price is at $72) and then we need to add the tax before going to the next stage. The cost is now $90.

Now it goes to the retailer, who typically marks up over 100%, and again this covers overhead like store rent, utilities and employees. (this is based on average retail markup of anything, which in reality is more like up to 300%, but we will stay low) so now the cost is $180 but we have not yet added in the tax.

The price of that "$20" ounce, with liberal discounts given, is now at the current market price. Now do it with real numbers and consider any big business owners greed (cuz only big business will be able to afford to grow with the fees and restrictions) and you are simply ignorant if you think the price will be this low.

Sarich did not need to add any evidence or analysis, as anyone who can do simple math can understand that cannabis will be anything but cheaper under I-502.
Posted by NurseMimi on March 8, 2012 at 10:24 AM · Report this
a bunch of pot activits are those making beaucoup d'argent under the current "medical mj" system -- they do not want everyone to have pot at a low cost -- it's just normal business lobbying to preserve a semi monopoly created thru regulations.

by the way, mexican cartels are destroying mexico because of our stupid pot laws. pot is 70% of their profits. assholes who fight legalization here are objectively supporting the current pot industry, which includes:
medical mj here
sinaloan cartel
the complex of judges, prison guards, lawyers, all making money off of pot, and
the right wing racists who loving having drug laws as the new Jim Crow way to saddle mainly balck people with lifelong burdens.

great company, fucking zetas, racists and business pigs. a typical alliance dominating our politics.
Posted by legalize it on March 8, 2012 at 10:05 AM · Report this
Question: Would people found to have less than 5 Ng/Ml of THC in their blood be completely immune to prosecution for DUI, or does that provision simply guarantee conviction for those who exceed it? The reason I ask is because I know that you can still be found guilty of DUI even if your BAC is less than .08, as long as the prosecution can prove that you were impaired.
Posted by duiquestion on March 8, 2012 at 10:03 AM · Report this
Womyn2me 72
I will be voting yes. Tax pot and use the proceeds for education.
Posted by Womyn2me http://http:\\www.shelleyandlaura.com on March 8, 2012 at 9:31 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 71
"I also don't agree with this law because it seems we're getting hung up on how to arrest people."

Welcome to America.

Really though, this will PREVENT tens of thousands of arrests, and create the infrastructure required to legalize, while ALSO allowing us to implement better solutions once it is passed.

We are not Portugal. Democratic leadership is too centrist/right-wing to offer you the national solution you're looking for.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 8, 2012 at 8:51 AM · Report this
GlamB0t 70
Wasn't Muraco (person in main picture) involved in some ridiculous battle with other dispensaries a couple years ago? Hacking into others sites and such? (quick google source, many more out there: http://cdc.coop/greenbuddha)

It seems like a bad idea to use a giant image of someone who has less than ideal business practices when dealing with an already complicated issue.

I also don't agree with this law because it seems we're getting hung up on how to arrest people. Similar to other drug laws (DUI / possession / distributing) that try to "fix" users by putting them through the legal system when we all know our legal system couldn't rehabilitate Wolverine.
Posted by GlamB0t on March 8, 2012 at 8:22 AM · Report this
I am just amazed at how bad the "No on I-502" arguments are. Cracked says "Throwing the under 21s under the bus? Making it easier for them to get drug convictions and priors that bar them from all kinds of federal student aid? Not for me." Well then, you must not support the status quo where MARIJUANA IS ILLEGAL FOR PEOPLE UNDER 21. People under 21 get drug convictions that deny them student aid now. If you don't think kids under 21 should get drug convictions, then you should do something to help end marijuana prohibition, like supporting I-502.

Steve Sarich says pot will be $600-700/ounce if this passes. He doesn't offer any evidence or analysis for that of course because he's making it up. That or he's not familiar with even the most rudimentary concepts of economics and taxation. Marijuana costs about $20/ounce to produce, but is currently priced at $400/ounce because the people growing and selling it are risking prison, so they can and do charge you a risk premium. If marijuana was legal, it would be significantly less because you wouldn't have to pay someone thousands of dollars to risk arrest to transport it - you would just have to pay a reasonable wage and the price of gas. Sure, once it's legal, it'll be taxed like crazy, but not more than the current street price, otherwise we'd be creating a thriving black market which would lower tax revenue and, more importantly, defeat the whole point of legalization which is to undercut the black market.

More than anything, I just feel sorry for those of your who have been duped into opposing this initiative so that people like Lick, Mobley, and Sarich can continue lining their pockets with your money. If it does fail, I hope you're arrested for possession of less than an ounce the next day.
Posted by Danno on March 8, 2012 at 6:57 AM · Report this
NotSpicoli 68
@31 "In 2010 I helped assemble a group of some of the most seasoned activists to defeat Prop19 and we succeeded."

And in doing so I'm sure you earned the undying gratitude of Gil Kerlikowske, Robert DuPont, Pastor Ron Allen, Steve Cooley the drug cartels, marijuana profiteers, the alcohol industry, the prison industry, law enforcement...well you get the point.

A tree by is recognized by its fruit.
Posted by NotSpicoli http://disqus.com/notspicoli/ on March 8, 2012 at 6:10 AM · Report this
OutInBumF 67
No on I-502.
Here's why- there is a cultural bias against marijuana, mostly due to decades of the drug wars and reefer madness propaganda. Thus, if you are arrested for pot DUI, regardless of the blood-level, I can assure you that most judges and juries (non-smokers) will throw the book at you out of shear ignorance about what pot smoking is and how it *actually* affects the user. There will be no fair trials in pot DUI cases, unless perhaps you live in Seattle, and a probable 95-100% conviction rate.
All the rest of this discussion is noise, unless one is inclined to trust the judicial system re: pot smoking and fair arrests and trials.
Vote no on I-502.
Posted by OutInBumF on March 8, 2012 at 12:34 AM · Report this
@62, 63 the lady doth protest too much, methinks. you claim you're not connected to Dr. Mobley but you also claim to know him personally. so you're a fellow doctor, supporter of his cause, and you're writing on his behalf. sounds kinda connected to me.

regardless, i stand behind my assertion (which is admittedly based on personal judgement rather than hard evidence). what kind of person would travel from missouri to seattle and back every week? i find it hard to believe that he would do so just out of his love for medical marijuana patients. why doesn't he just move out here and actually be part of the community he advocates for?

no, i believe he is probably making a solid wage seeing patients and writing prescriptions and he dislikes the idea of this going away once people don't have to see a doctor to legally smoke weed. perhaps this applies to you, too? why don't you produce some studies or reports that back up your scare claims about a price spike? besides, i don't know any real pot smokers that would expect to buy an oz for thirty bucks. divide that oz by eight and there's your going rate on the street.
Posted by crasher on March 7, 2012 at 11:40 PM · Report this
Here's the article about Denver's pot critic: http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/201…
Posted by zenhound on March 7, 2012 at 11:15 PM · Report this
The Westword's pot critic in Denver did one of these blood tests supposedly after not smoking for twelve hours and came up way, way over the limit. Helped to kill the limit they were trying to pass in our legislature. It's possible he was lying for his own reasons I guess but it also seems possible that heavy users (which medical users generally are) will be over the limit on a routine basis. It just sort of makes sense. If I'm living in horrible pain, and I smoke a lot, smoking a bowl isn't going to do the same thing to me that it does to a high schooler who smokes on the weekends.

As a patient with a serious chronic pain condition, I probably do end up with more than that in my blood routinely. I'd much prefer a standard based on impairment rather than on a blood test without much information available either way. However, I still support this kind of change. To me I'd rather have legalisation and take precautions to not get pulled over (taking the bus, getting rides, whatever) than have people get sent to jail for possession.
Posted by zenhound on March 7, 2012 at 11:12 PM · Report this
To "Crasher"....

I know you probably don't read a lot, but I'd LOVE to know where you got the idea (assuming you can remember) that I-502 was going to get ANYONE $38 an ounce pot. Under 502 we're all looking at $600-$700 an ounce. NOW who's crazy? Still like 502?

Even the sponsors of this bill can explain to "Crasher" that his dreams of $38 an ounce pot are just not going to materialize. Just the tax on Crasher's ounce will be over $200 an ounce.

Sorry to "Crash" your fantasy, bud.
Posted by CannaCare on March 7, 2012 at 11:03 PM · Report this
What a ridiculous analysis of Gil Mobley. I'm in no way connected with Dr. Mobley in any way and I can tell you that his interest is not in the money to be made by flying back and forth from Missouri to see a few medical cannabis patients.

Gill and I don't always agree, but it's certainly got nothing to do with his ethics. This is just one more attempt by the 502 folks to discredit ANYONE who disagrees with them, even a well-repected doctor.

His interest in the case was probably the same as mine....how to best defend our patients when they go to court, as opposed to those who write recommendations for patients and couldn't care less about what happens to them if they find themselves in the position of having to defend themselves without the help of their recommending physician.

Your "presumptions" that he is a "carpet bagger" and "self-promoter" seem to be based soley on your experience that he looked at a room in your house and that he wanted to commute from his practice in Missouri (which he currently does....without renting a room from you)?

Now THAT is a real leap of logic....bordering on slander.

I'll concede that there are some unscrupulous folks writing medical cannabis recommendations, but Gil Mobley is not one of them. You're obviously just targeting him for his stand against I-502 and his efforts to actually protect patients.

I hope you find someone to rent that room. I hope you don't post slanderous articles on the internet about anyone who (wisely) decides not to live in the same house with you.

Steve Sarich
Posted by CannaCare on March 7, 2012 at 10:53 PM · Report this
I think it's insane that Washington liberals are having this debate. Dispensaries are just keeping the product illegal to justify charging an arm and a leg for it.

One report advance of Prop 19 predicted that legalization would have lowered the cost of pot by 80% (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/20…).

That's a lot of air sucked out of drug cartels and a lot of profit sucked out of dispensaries. As someone hoping for legalization in CA post-haste, I hope Washington passes I-502.

$38 dollars for an ounce?! You're all crazy if you don't pass this thing. Medical patients could take a lot of fucking CABS if you cut their medical expenses EIGHTY FUCKING PERCENT!
Posted by LukeJoe on March 7, 2012 at 10:34 PM · Report this
As for Dr. Gil Mobley, he's a self-promoter and a carpet bagger. He originally hails from Missouri and came to Seattle a couple years ago when dispensaries started to flourish to take part (cash in) on the new industry.

Here's an article from two years ago: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/2010022…

"Dr. Gil Mobley attended the Snohomish County trial to get a sense of how these cases are being prosecuted. Mobley, who runs a medical office in Missouri, plans to open a Seattle clinic specializing in marijuana treatment."

I recognized his name because he came and looked at a room in my house before he moved to Seattle. He freely admitted that he came from Missouri and only planned to spend half the week in Seattle, commuting back to Missouri to tend to his other clinic. His interest in this case is presumably the same as his interest in having a practice in Washington: money.
Posted by crasher on March 7, 2012 at 10:11 PM · Report this
Fred Casely 59
There's a part of the left that's not progressive?
Posted by Fred Casely on March 7, 2012 at 10:08 PM · Report this
I give up....NORML has published an article claiming that Jeffrey Steinborn, a NORML board member, is supporting I-502 and you insist that he's part of Patients Against 502 that's opposing it. Which is it? Since Dominic has close ties, maybe he can get us a straight answer.

Maybe Mr. Steinborn can give us a clear answer.

Steve Sarich
Posted by CannaCare on March 7, 2012 at 9:09 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 57
I spoke with someone who worked at a medical dispensary. He said that the "patients" were charged something like $3000 per quarter for their "dose".

That's tough cash to give...!
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on March 7, 2012 at 9:08 PM · Report this
had to register and lost my comment. won't be back. this site registration is bs, or should be linked to google account, twitter, facebook instead of the time wasting registration. so long
Posted by nubwaxer on March 7, 2012 at 8:29 PM · Report this
the pot growers are definitely against legalized pot. my brother grew about 6 pounds of legal medical marijuana (way more than he could possibly use) he complained that there was so much competition that wholesale prices reduced his potential gross from $12,000 to $9,000 or less--extra income he needed to supplement his disability income because he has pancreatic cancer and can't work.
Posted by nubwaxer on March 7, 2012 at 8:25 PM · Report this
tl;dr... The biggest thing that stuck in my head was that 0.08 for Alcohol. Washington State is a No Tolerance State. That's where I was screwed. One shot, driving, etc. I blew 0.06 and after 15 minutes 0.042. No, I shouldn't have driven after one shot, my bad, but this legislation sounds just as bad.

I hate the idea that a Judge can look at the evidence and toss it aside to make their own decision.

vote no on I-502.
Posted by DarthTagnan on March 7, 2012 at 8:10 PM · Report this
Awesome article. Well done!
Posted by gnossos on March 7, 2012 at 7:25 PM · Report this
@48, You obviously didn't get it, I am PRO I-502 and believe there should be driving restrictions.
Posted by MarvinC on March 7, 2012 at 7:22 PM · Report this
I predict two practical outcomes of a successful yes vote on I-502:

- The state will stop arresting and prosecuting most marijuana-related activities, especially usage.
- The federal government will prevent any of those other things like licensed sales from happening.

If there is a reason for medical patients to be against the initiative, I don't think it's for DUIs. I think it's that latter item. If trying to legitimize sales (versus just simply removing any state laws against them) causes the feds to intervene a lot more than what they currently do, then medical dispensaries are likely to be spillover victims of that.

Personally, I think the licensing portion of the initiative was a mistake, and needlessly provocative. However, I am supportive of at least removing state penalties. As for the under 21 crowd? I think the penalties for them should not be any more severe than what they'd get for alcohol use (if even that). But the penalties for pot use for them are already bad.

I see this as an incremental improvement overall, even with the known caveats, and thus will be voting in support of I-502.
Posted by madcap on March 7, 2012 at 7:10 PM · Report this
pdonahue 50
Because I work in the commercial construction industry I will NEVER be able to smoke pot, medical or recreational, the testing and insurance industry makes too much money regulating my urine. If you have noticed the growth of ad space in the Weekly and Stranger you will also notice the trending toward medical pot distributors in the narrow subculture of alt journalism and art house people. For the rest of us, this all seems a storm in a teacup. As long as law enforcement can use pot busts as a leverage tool to negotiate plea bargains and search warrants, the 40,000 arrests are just going to be the cost of doing business in WA state, no matter what law you pass regulating pot. Ditto with the vast testing and workplace regulations crowd who want a club to beat their workforce into compliance, that said, keep passing more legalization laws, sooner or later all these control freaks will just get old and die, right?
Posted by pdonahue on March 7, 2012 at 7:08 PM · Report this
Andy_Squirrel 49
A bit long winded but a great read. Thanks for enlightening us on the new initiative!
Posted by Andy_Squirrel on March 7, 2012 at 6:11 PM · Report this
Fuck your Privileged children and their special loophole. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly.
Posted by the grey market keeps it illegal on March 7, 2012 at 6:02 PM · Report this
Good 'ol Sensible Washington, clinging to your unproven fear mongering campaign. I am a patient who will be voting YES on I-502.
Posted by MarvinC on March 7, 2012 at 5:58 PM · Report this
Throwing the under 21s under the bus? Making it easier for them to get drug convictions and priors that bar them from all kinds of federal student aid? Not for me.

No on 502.
Posted by cracked on March 7, 2012 at 5:49 PM · Report this
If I-502 doesn't pass this year, it'll be at least 4 years until something else can pass. In that time, I very well might be arrested. Tens of thousands of other Washingtonians will be arrested, and at the current rate, tens of thousands of people will be murdered by drug cartels. An imperfect DUID standard is not unacceptable; tens of thousands of people dead or behind bars is unacceptable. Vote yes.

"I rather stick with whats working now..." Excuse me? What we have now isn't working. I'm not sick - I'm a recreational cannabis user, and I don't deserve to go to jail for that. I could right now, I won't if I-502 passes. I'll also have properly regulated stores at which to purchase safe marijuana labeled for purity and potency as opposed to having to buy a clear bag of who-knows-what from a totally unregulated drug dealer. If it means I have to wait a day - even two or three days - to drive afterwards, so be it.

And if the feds try to stop us, so what? Even if they succeed, so what? At least we will have furthered the conversation and brought our country closer to ending marijuana prohibition.

If you're voting no on I-502, you're voting to put marijuana smokers behind bars. Shame on you.
Posted by Danno on March 7, 2012 at 5:42 PM · Report this
What a great one from you. Your A game is so damn good!
Posted by gloomy gus on March 7, 2012 at 5:39 PM · Report this
The really sad thing is, I'm sure most of the people posting nonsense about DUIs etc in this thread actually believe what they're saying. Because for the last several months, their medical providers (pot docs and dispensary operators) have been using their position as a medical authority to brainwash patients into advocating and voting against their own best interests. I've stopped shopping (yes, it's shopping) at several of my favorite dispensaries for this reason. Plus, the paranoia and knee-jerk distrust of authority just kind of comes with the pot smoking crowd (you know it's true) so this story about cops and the "mainstream" ACLU conspiring to crack down on patients appeals to them immediately.

The people driving this thing know it's BS, and are motivated by profit, but many of the people we're wasting our time arguing with in this thread don't know any better - they just trust the people profiting from them to tell them the truth.
Posted by downbythefreeway on March 7, 2012 at 5:36 PM · Report this
@35: i'd rather listen to a "troll" than someone unconcerned with and unrepentantly spreading untruth. @36: Medical patients will still be allowed to grow but this doesn't yet allow home growers.
Posted by i now see why marijuana hasn't been legalized yet on March 7, 2012 at 5:22 PM · Report this
NaFun 41
@40 - 10000 arrests a year is not "working now".
Posted by NaFun http://www.dancesafe.org on March 7, 2012 at 5:15 PM · Report this
Hempfester-Jack'sFriend 40
We shouldn't be so apt to move forward when the end result will be 3 steps back.. if it doesn't pass this year, it means they go back and re-write it and try again. I rather stick with whats working now than mess it up and go back 10yrs in time. I hope that gives you Sumthin'..
Posted by Hempfester-Jack'sFriend on March 7, 2012 at 5:10 PM · Report this
I've said it before here, I'll say it again. The road to progress is often blocked by those demanding perfection.

Vote yes. If 502 fails, it'll be 10 years before a similar opportunity comes around. Of course, that's probably just fine for the for-profit medical industry.
Posted by I Got Nuthin' on March 7, 2012 at 5:05 PM · Report this
Hempfester-Jack'sFriend 38
Danno.. you hit it on the nail head in the end of your post.. some Collectives have already begun to check for efficacy i.e. molds, mildews, pesticides/herbicides etc.. these people are on the forefront of the industry and are trying to make a standard that would display the lab results per stand and are far ahead of the FDA currently. You should be able to tell whats in your cannabis just like you know whats in your soft drink.
Posted by Hempfester-Jack'sFriend on March 7, 2012 at 4:59 PM · Report this
@bcainw: people who support "legalizing marijuana" support making it about as legal as alcohol. If you told them it would be your "Untaxed, Unregulated, Uncontrolled" libertarian wet dream, you'd have about 10% support, not 50.

Seriously, you can't even get people to support untaxed, unregulated, uncontrolled alcohol, which half of Americans use regularly and is backed by a multi-billion dollar lobby. What in God's name makes you think people would want that for marijuana, which is used by less than 10% of adults on a regular basis and has the backing of 3-4 rich people?

I smoke pot and even I don't want it unregulated. My kid shouldn't be able to smoke it legally, and frankly, I want the FDA regulating growers to make sure it's pesticide/mold free and labeled truthfully for purity and potency.
Posted by Danno on March 7, 2012 at 4:53 PM · Report this
No where in this article was the issue of where this "legal" pot would come from ever truely explored. I expected the author to address this question in more detail. What are the laws on growing your own marijuana in the context of this bill? If this bill says that you may grow marijuana but never posses more than an ounce than that adds a whole new element to the questionable legititimacy of this bill. No one grows marijuana an ounce at a time, how horribly inefficent; remember we are also in an age of trying to conserve resourses, and I believe power would fall neatly into that catagory. Oh I see, in the end you want me to realize that growing my own marijuana, adhering to the parameters that you set forth is actually more expensive than buying it. From, let me guess, You right. In my opinion one of the reasons that Prop 19 didn't pass in California was in part due to this issue. They were going to allow citizens to grow their own marijuana, but only a three foot by three foot garden space. That's like saying you can brew your own beer, but never posses more than a twelve pack. Robert Lee the co-author/promoter of Prop 19 was going to be running several "super grows" I think they called them. These grows sites were projected to produce something ridiculous like 100 pounds a day. Effectively making Robert Lee the most profitable drug dealer of legal marijuana in California. These bills are not about the fight against the conservatives who would have all the "potheads" condemned and sentenced to jail time. This is about money, tax revenue, and turning marijuana into just another product that can marketed and controled at their whim, which we all know is greed.
Posted by nmoses on March 7, 2012 at 4:52 PM · Report this
Hempfester-Jack'sFriend 35

Read this for yourself..make your own conclusion and do not let the Stranger Forum Trolls cloud this issue. When you see the changes to be made, and what they entail, the loss and costs, ask yourself is it worth it?

VOTE NO NO NO on I-502 keep patient access to med's without making them pay even more...
Posted by Hempfester-Jack'sFriend on March 7, 2012 at 4:50 PM · Report this
If these people actually gave a damn about patients they'd be knocking on doors begging voters to pass I-502 right now. Think about how cheap and easy it is to get alcohol, then think about all the hoops you have to jump through and red tape you have to cut to be able to get medical marijuana legally, not to mention having to pay through the nose (to the people in this article opposing I-502) to get it.

The truth is, they don't give a damn about sick people. Medical marijuana has created a robust industry that they're doing a nice job profiting on. They don't want I-502 to pass because they know patients wouldn't need to rely on them anymore, and could get their medicine cheaper and easier without them.

If marijuana really was treated like any other medicine, people like Michael Lick would be out of business b/c it would be distributed through pharmacies like any other medicine. These people don't want it treated like medicine, and they don't want it treated like alcohol. They want it treated like something they can make money off of.

Their opposition is based on equal parts greed and unrealistic political expectations.
Posted by Danno on March 7, 2012 at 4:47 PM · Report this
No on I502

In 2011 Gallup reported, for the first time, that a majority of Americans now support full legalization. NORML has never really supported this which is why they are so desparate: hoping to fill their NORML attorneys offices with Cannabis Consumers with negligable amounts of THC in their system.

The Gallup polsters also predicted that support for full legalization will on grow in coming years: at the rate of 2 to 4 percent each successive year. So the question becomes why would we settle for a few scraps when we now deserve the full feast: Untaxed, Unregulated, Uncontrolled self cultivation by adults?

In 2010 I helped assemble a group of some of the most seasoned activists to defeat Prop19 and we succeeded. So it will be with this. Please waste all the money you wish on this "white elephant" because it is going down to defeat in November.

New Candidate for 2012 Presidency wants a "Green Economy" Based on Marijuana
Posted by bcainw on March 7, 2012 at 4:45 PM · Report this
This is a capitulation from the enemy ,& the stoopid stoners want to continue with the slave system...if only they still taught the gravitas of Logic & Critical Thinking in the hemp movement--Jack Herer was an idiot on these subjects.
Posted by RayChristlTHC on March 7, 2012 at 4:43 PM · Report this
No on I502

In 2011 Gallup reported, for the first time, that a majority of Americans now support full legalization. NORML has never really supported this which is why they are so desparate: hoping to fill their NORML attorneys offices with Cannabis Consumers with negligable amounts of THC in their system.

The Gallup polsters also predicted that support for full legalization will on grow in coming years: at the rate of 2 to 4 percent each successive year. So the question becomes why would we settle for a few scraps when we now deserve the full feast: Untaxed, Unregulated, Uncontrolled self cultivation by adults?

In 2010 I helped assemble a group of some of the most seasoned activists to defeat Prop19 and we succeeded. So it will be with this. Please waste all the money you wish on this "white elephant" because it is going down to defeat in November.

New Candidate for 2012 Presidency wants a "Green Economy" Based on Marijuana
Posted by bcainw on March 7, 2012 at 4:43 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 30
Seriously, folks. If you have to lie repeatedly to make your "point", you're going to turn sensible people off and come off as culties. Make sure I-502 actually says what you're claiming it does before you forward rumors as fact.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 7, 2012 at 4:14 PM · Report this

You really think big business will march in? Who do you think patients against i-502 are? The people making millions by selling something they label as mmj when half of them dont even register with the secretary of state so none of them pay any taxes at all. The fact is patients should be for it because it will mean these multi million dollar operations will have to play on a more level playing field with the smaller legit collectives. If you don't think half of the operations around the sound are multi million dollar operations guess again, in THURSTON COUNTY cannabis outreach services is being charged from the DEA raids last year. They are being charged because while they claim to be a collective garden "access point" they were significantly over the collective garden limit, which is 4.5 pounds. They had 22 pounds, even at wholesale thats at least $60,000 (and more then likely it didnt come from one buy so they may have paid up to $80-90,000 for it all). None of these stores usually can keep a strain in for more then a week so more then likely that was a weeks worth, for a small collective garden that was in Lacey. Lacey, not Seattle. Think about it...
Posted by dalemm on March 7, 2012 at 4:12 PM · Report this
AnthonyM 28
Hey Hempfester, I read the article but the Northwest Leaf is incorrect on their assertion with this particular issue.

However, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to oppose it, so I concur profusely with NO on I-502.
Posted by AnthonyM on March 7, 2012 at 4:06 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 27
@19: "When "Access Points" close"

Stop pushing bullshit. As per NORML: "qualified patients already protected under existing law will be able to continue to grow cannabis, as I-502 does not alter existing medicinal cannabis laws."
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 7, 2012 at 4:05 PM · Report this
I-502 represents a quantum leap in how Americans approach cannabis, making opposition motives very suspect.

Pardon me. What I meant to say is opposition is absofuckinglutely insane: I-502 can be the biggest FAIL handed to the drug warriors in generations. There must be some kind of passive-aggressive Stockholm Syndrome at work in the opposition...or just shortsighted greed.

Vote yes, yes, yes, and MMJ patients need to ramp up their game and refuse to buy their medicine at anti-502 dispensaries.
Posted by Che Guava on March 7, 2012 at 4:04 PM · Report this
As a recreational marijuana user, my first concern is that I not be arrested for using a substance safer than alcohol. Out of an abundance of caution, and respect for my fellow man, I don't plan on driving if there's any risk that there's active THC in my bloodstream. Even if that means waiting days.
If the driving standard needs work - and I agree that it's problematic - I'll pass the initiative now and work on the driving standard in the legislature later. My first concern is that police not be able to lock me or anyone else in a cage just for using a substance safer than alcohol. Opposing an initiative that move the ball 90%, but not 100% toward the goal is not the way rational people act.
Besides, you can't always get what you want. In fact, you never do. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Posted by Danno on March 7, 2012 at 3:53 PM · Report this
How about you pass the damn initiative and end thousands of marijuana arrests (the big deal) first. Then you go to the legislature and work on the impairment standards (the little deal) after you've done that.
Also, the initiative isn't perfect, but so what? You don't always get everything you want. In fact, you never do. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Posted by Danno on March 7, 2012 at 3:45 PM · Report this
Hempfester-Jack'sFriend 23
and... No - I wont feed the Trolls.
Posted by Hempfester-Jack'sFriend on March 7, 2012 at 3:43 PM · Report this
Hempfester-Jack'sFriend 22
Anthony... go over to Northwest Leaf.. read page 10 of last months issue, 1st sentence. I believe it says "eliminate access points"... so go read more.
I stand by what I said.. VOTE NO NO NO on I-502
Posted by Hempfester-Jack'sFriend on March 7, 2012 at 3:40 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 21
@19: Hah, The "let's call something we imagined a 'fact' and hope nobody ever calls us on it" Northwest Leaf.

I don't read their magazine, but what they've posted here has been less than impressive.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 7, 2012 at 3:38 PM · Report this
AnthonyM 20
Hey Hempfester, as a staunch opponent of Initiative 502 I want to correct you on the statement that medical cannabis access points will shutdown. Besides the unscientific, unwanted and arguably unconstitutional per se DUID law that will effect patients and non-patients alike, I-502 does nothing to effect, alter or remove any protection that our medical cannabis law provides for qualifying patients.
Posted by AnthonyM on March 7, 2012 at 3:34 PM · Report this
Hempfester-Jack'sFriend 19
For those who need some more input ... go out to the Northwest Leaf and check out the small article in last months issue. Also if you can get your hands on this months issue there is a more in depth article as well. When "Access Points" close .. there will be legit patients with out their medicine...basically dying or in pain.. I don't want that on my conscience that my vote denied these people access to meds.

http://www.thenorthwestleaf.com/issues/ page 10
Posted by Hempfester-Jack'sFriend on March 7, 2012 at 3:07 PM · Report this
Vote YES! The medical pot dispensary owners who form the heart of the opposition to 502 should be ashamed of themselves--their motivation is purely selfish and is based on nothing but greed.

And false positives, for folks who have active THC blood levels that exceed the limit? Sounds like a pure scare tactic--unless you've given the cops some indication that you're driving under the influence, the risks of a miscarriage of justice to a person who is not impaired but who tests above the allowable limit are miniscule compared to the demonstrable harm done to recreational smokers who are arrested under current law.

The principle of the greatest good for the greatest number of people argues strongly for Washington voters to vote YES on initiative 502!
Posted by Functional Atheist on March 7, 2012 at 3:04 PM · Report this
Without probable cause, people can't be tested or arrested. That is true. We know cops don't lie, we knowthey don't make up details in their police reports to bolster their case. I feel completely safe now. I am sure that is not wishful thinking.
The 5 mg referred to refers to "some evidence of impairment". Hoe much ? We don't know. More or less than impairment tuning the car radio? We don't know. Does the 5 ng impairment refer to regular smokers, the people who wrote the studies says "no".
502 requires no evidence of impairment. It is strict liability based on 5 ng, no matter who you are. If the cop smaells it, you are getting tested. What will your blood level be just after smoking? About 16ng to 18ng. How long should you wait for that to get below 5 ng ? 2 hours to 1 day, according to the studies Holden cites.
Posted by bitchslapofreality on March 7, 2012 at 3:04 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 16
Voting yes, because all the anti-502 evidence trotted out so far has been pseudoscience, anecdote, and ignorance of the existing law on the books.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 7, 2012 at 2:13 PM · Report this
hans millionaire 15
vote no!, vote no!, vote no!

dont pass this initiative 502, vote no! research more than 3 pot users, at least 30-100 should be tested, immediately 6, 12, 24, and 48 hours after use to prove, 5ng is not a valid measure of impairment! this is not valid science, and should not be made into law!!!

vote no!, vote no!, vote no!, vote no!
Posted by hans millionaire on March 7, 2012 at 1:41 PM · Report this
pfffter 14
@4 and @5 Even the Seattle Weekly wasn't convinced by Dr Mobley.

"Though hardly definitive proof that a 5-nanogram blood limit would jeopardize the livelihoods of thousands of medical-marijuana patients, Mobley insists that these results indicate that folks like Bigelow will have a tough time ever getting their blood levels down to a level that isn't incriminating."

So instead of published, peer-reviewed research, we get Dr Mobley's "insistence" that it's true. If that's how we made scientific findings, then we would all still think the world was flat.
Posted by pfffter on March 7, 2012 at 1:38 PM · Report this
pfffter 13
@11 I'd like to know if this is true "But when asked by The Stranger to disclose details of his findings, Mobley declined to share his research or to comment on it." Why wouldn't you comment when asked, Dr Mobley?
Posted by pfffter on March 7, 2012 at 1:36 PM · Report this
pfffter 12
Dr Mobley needs to publish his peer-reviewed research instead of recounting anecdotal evidence to the Seattle Weekly and here via comments (but not going on the record for the article) ad nauseam. That's how science works, isn't it?
Posted by pfffter on March 7, 2012 at 1:29 PM · Report this
Dr Gil Mobley, MD 11
Correcting Dom-

I'm not an attorney, I am a physician and researcher. I shy away from speaking about all the additional negative issues surrounding i502 other than the per se provision, but this legal clarification about Dom's assertions were forwarded from our advisory committee's lawyers and the corrections need to be noted.

"In the article Dom foolishly says that with the 5 ng limit, anyone who registers below that wouldn't be convicted under the new proposed 502 law. Wrong! Even if yr breath alcohol limit is below .08 now you can still be convicted under the "under the influence" prong of the dwi statute (which is used by pros. For those who refuse the breath test) even though you won't be convicted under the " pro se" prong.

Of course if 502 passes, and you have more than 5 ng in yr system you will likely be convicted whereas right now, if you exceed 5 ng. They can only convict you if they prove you are "under the influence."

Hope that helps.


Gil Mobley, MD
No on i502
Posted by Dr Gil Mobley, MD on March 7, 2012 at 1:24 PM · Report this
I-502 is not full legalization. Not even close. The federal challenge is also not going to happen:

Personally, decrim on steroids is not enough to convince me to surrender my right to dispute my lack of impairment in court.  It will be legal when I can pass a joint without committing a felony.

In the meantime I intend to fight ONDCP-supported policies on "drugged driving." Fatal accidents go down in medical marijuana states because cannabis is a safer alternative to alcohol.
Posted by John Toker on March 7, 2012 at 1:12 PM · Report this
Cydney 9
In response to John Mkay and parts of this article that try to make the assumption that I-502 will in anyway help end the black market or Mexican cartels:

If it's "legal" to possess an ounce of cannabis, yet there will be absolutely no legal markets (due to federal preemption), and with growing even a single plant being still illegal, where do you think the average recreational cannabis consumer is going to purchase their ounce? The black market of course.
Posted by Cydney on March 7, 2012 at 1:08 PM · Report this
the more i reed Stranger articles on i.502 i cant help but thank that the stranger is funded by them because how bias these articles are is crazzzzzzzzy! the seattle weekly did a much more unbiased feature and the stranger should be ashamed.
Posted by tanyalivinglarge on March 7, 2012 at 1:03 PM · Report this
absolutely hempfester! we can do better than an initiative that quote/unquote legalizes an ounce yet still lets LEOs nail cannabis folk with a felony for passing a joint to a friend.
Posted by MicheleJohn on March 7, 2012 at 1:01 PM · Report this
Hempfester-Jack'sFriend 6
VOTE NO on I-502! This is the wrong wording for this time around.. Patients lose out, big biz marches in.. and alot of people slapped w DUI's. its a NO NO NO.
Posted by Hempfester-Jack'sFriend on March 7, 2012 at 1:00 PM · Report this
thank you seandr for posting that as clearly dominic can not and will nto give a fair assessment of this issue.

and jonnah no limit is correct that takes away our ability to have a trial that is fair and just.
Posted by MicheleJohn on March 7, 2012 at 12:59 PM · Report this
seandr 4
But when asked by The Stranger to disclose details of his findings, Mobley declined to share his research or to comment on it.

Happily, you'll find some of his results, along with a fair assessment of the science and politics surrounding this issue, in The Seattle Weekly.

Mobley tested 3 patients for the purposes of that article. 1 of them had 11ng THC levels 11 hours after smoking the previous night. None of them showed any signs of impairment.
Posted by seandr on March 7, 2012 at 12:04 PM · Report this
Great article, Dominic! But I have to clarify two things for my own peace of mind:

You wrote: “They are also misreading the court rulings, says Yakima attorney Newhouse. As it stands, Washington State effectively has a zero-tolerance policy for any THC in the blood. As Newhouse explains it, having represented 5 to 10 marijuana DUI cases per year, any THC in the blood is typically used by a judge or jury as sufficient evidence for a conviction.”

Actually, any active THC in the blood PLUS the testimony of a professional witness such as an officer usually is enough for a conviction.

You also included the following: “But while the criticism that pot patients and regular pot users will be arrested en masse for DUIs doesn't seem to pan out, critics of I-502 make an excellent point about drivers under 21. I-502 would establish zero tolerance for any THC in drivers under 21. ‘Drivers in this age bracket will be guilty of DUI if even the smallest amount of cannabis is found in their system,’ says the Patients Against I-502 website. In a worst-case scenario, they speculate, ‘a designated driver subjected to secondhand cannabis smoke would be held criminally liable for the activities of others.’”

If a driver under 21 tests positive for under 5ng active THC but shows no signs of impairment, they cannot be charged with DUI. However, they can be charged with a misdemeanor. And the amount of effort it would take to test positive for Active THC from mere exposure to secondhand smoke before driving is quite substantial.
Posted by Alex Newhouse on March 7, 2012 at 12:01 PM · Report this
1. OMG, longest article ever. I feel like I deserve a medal.
2. Voting yes. I know "medical marijuana" patients who do not need the drug, who abuse it, who are addicted -- and I want them to have to pay more for weed. Hopefully making it more expensive will encourage them to consume less.
3. Tougher law enforcement on high people on the road? Yes please. This bill makes sense. As for the dispensary guy who was complaining about 5ng/ml, the samples he took were probably from potheads (yes, med mar patients) who smoke all damn day. Of course they'll be over.
Posted by SaraJean on March 7, 2012 at 11:55 AM · Report this
JonnoN 1
5ng/ml... 10ng/ml... I don't know what the exact right limit is, but it's certainly not infinity (nor is it 0). This is way better than the status quo. Vote yes.
Posted by JonnoN http://www.backnine.org/ on March 7, 2012 at 11:03 AM · Report this

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