This was originally posted at 1:15 p.m. It's been updated with new information from the initiative sponsor and an opponent of lowering the drinking age.

An initiative was filed today in Olympia to lower the legal drinking age in Washington state to 19.

To earn a place on the November ballot, sponsor Dustin Reischman needs to submit 241,153 valid signatures of registered Washington voters by July 2 to the Attorney General's office (they recommend 300,000 signatures to cushion those ruled out as invalid).

I've got calls in to Reishman about his motivations and the WSLCB to find out just how common these initiatives are. In the meantime, I bet a number of college activists just found their pet cause for the summer.

UPDATE: Reishman, it turns out, is an earnest college junior attending Washington State University. He filed the initiative as part of an assignment for a philosophy class on Utilitarianism. His argument is that lowering the drinking age would mean fewer Minor in Possession citations on and off college campuses, which would allow communities to divert those resources elsewhere—like fighting crime.

He stresses that filing the initiative had nothing to do with WSU or the Fraternity Council (yep, he's a frat member). "Before I was 21," he says, "I used to drink more than I do now. Mainly because it’s something that you’re told not to do, but it’s so easily accessible." He equates underage drinking to living on the wild side, or breaking the speed limit. "Once I became 21, the fun went out of it. Now it's more of an option, not a fun thing. Which is how drinking should be."

Reishman believes the money WA would lose in federal transportation funding could be recovered in time and resources for processing MIPs. Also, if citizens are worried about teens crossing the boarder into WA to drink, he suggests the legislature make only WA driver's licenses valid for buying booze between the ages of 19 and 21.

Jim Cooper, vice president for the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention, negates Reishman's argument with two words: brain development.

"In the medical field they say your brain isn’t developed until between 22 and 25 years old. Functional MRI shows brain development with distinct differences in thought patterns for drinkers and non drinkers at a young age," he says, then adds: "And I was in the army, in Louisiana, when the drinking age there went from 18 to 21. Louisiana did that because they were not getting federal highway dollars and their roads were the worst I've ever been on."

Reishman says he has plenty of enthusiastic friends willing to help him gather signatures this summer. "I don't see how [a lower drinking age] could hurt." Still, he acknowledges many people won't agree with him and his college friends. To those people, he says, "Please don't shoot the messenger."