New initiative drive aims to legalize marijuana

OLYMPIA — After failing to get the measure on the ballot in 2010, activists who support legalizing use of marijuana by adults launched a new bid Wednesday to put the question before voters this year.

Members of Sensible Washington filed their initiative to erase all criminal and civil penalties for use of marijuana and make it legal for those 18 years and older to grow it, smoke it and sell it without threat of arrest.

The measure, which also would allow the legal growing of hemp, is very similar to one the group pushed in 2010. That effort didn’t get enough signatures to put it on the ballot.

Douglas Hiatt of Seattle, an author of both measures, sounded confident that this year will turn out different because of what they learned last year as the initiative came up about 50,000 signatures short.

“We’re better funded and better organized this year,” he said, adding that this year’s effort is off to an earlier start which will give their volunteers more time to gather signatures.

And, he said, the measure was modified to make clear the state will need to enact rules if it is passed.

“We’ve changed last year’s initiative to reflect concerns about civil regulations of marijuana and our new initiative has language that clearly directs the state Legislature to regulate the responsible adult use of marijuana,” he said.

Hiatt brushed aside suggestions that chances for success would improve by holding off until 2012 when there presumably be more young voters for a presidential election.

“The folks in Sensible Washington didn’t want to wait,” he said. “They don’t want thousands more people arrested. They didn’t want our farmers to miss another year of planting hemp.”

To secure a place on the statewide November ballot, they must turn in valid signatures of 241,153 registered Washington voters by July 8.

via : Herald Net

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