A bad ballot title can be the basis for a court fight—if the initiative backers think it will cost them votes—and a good one can win votes on election day. It's the job Washington State AG Rob McKenna's office to read the complete text of all initiatives submitted to the state and encapsulate it into a brief ballot title and a slightly longer ballot summary. Well, McKenna's office has finished its work for Initiative 502, the 64-page measure to legalize and regulate the marijuana industry, and its official summary is the sort of appealing pitch that a campaign would pay a million dollars for. Here she is:
Statement of Subject: Initiative Measure No. 502 concerns marijuana.
Concise Description: This measure would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over twenty-one; remove state-law criminal and civil penalties for activities that it authorizes; tax marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues.
This measure would remove state-law prohibitions against producing, processing, and selling marijuana, subject to licensing and regulation by the liquor control board; allow limited possession of marijuana by persons aged twenty-one and over; and impose 25% excise taxes on wholesale and retail sales of marijuana, earmarking revenue for purposes that include substance-abuse prevention, research, education, and healthcare. Laws prohibiting driving under the influence would be amended to include maximum thresholds for THC blood concentration.
Unequivocal statements that this will generate tax revenue, fund substance-abuse prevention, and do away with "prohibition" could buy this thing a few points when it goes before voters in 2012. The petitions hit streets today and the campaign has a robust $242,000 stashed in its coffers.