I'll start by agreeing with Goldy: The worst punishment for possessing a bag of pot is being killed in jail, which basically happened last week to a Snohomish County man facing a minor pot charge. That was awful. But Goldy's other assessment—that Initiative 502 on the fall ballot to legalize pot is mostly "symbolic" as a challenge to federal law—is wrong.

Regardless of any federal challenge or its outcome, passing I-502 will eliminate state penalties for possessing up to an ounce of pot. That's entirely practical. Misdemeanor pot arrests—the type Goldy's post is about, which make up 90 percent of the pot busts in Washington State—would end, thereby stopping about 9,000 marijuana arrests per year. Washington would be the first state to do that, and if we'd done it sooner, it would have saved that poor man's life in Snohomish County.

As for the symbolism of challenging federal law, that's also practical. Federal law ain't going to change itself. Congress and the White House will be unresponsive to the changing tides of opinion on pot until states make a big fucking to-do about it—just folks are doing with gay marriage. Now the president and the Democratic party are all about legalizing gay marriage. Not in spite of a federal challenge to DOMA and Prop 8, I'd argue, but because of it.