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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: I-502

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November 5, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Unlikely support and opposition for Initiative 502

Initiative 502, which would legalize marijuana use, is on the Nov. 6th ballot in Washington state, but its supporters are not who you’d expect.

SEATTLE — Washington may soon become one of the first states to pass an initiative legalizing recreational marijuana use.

King County Sergeant Cindi West believes that keeping marijuana outlawed is a waste of money and resources that could better be used to prosecute more harmful crime (Photo by MJ Hoecherl / UW Election Eye).

If passed by the voters tomorrow, the initiative would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution and possession for persons over 21. A sales tax of 25 percent would be enforced on all sales and a new DUI standard would also be established, much like the present alcohol DUI standard. Marijuana is currently the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.
Among the groups in support of I-502 is a likely one: young voters, and a seemingly unlikely one: King County law enforcement.

Ironically, when state legislators introduced the initiative last summer, they anticipated much of the support to come from medical marijuana businesses and activists, but that has not been the case.

Businesses that sell medical marijuana and their customers are those that are most strongly opposed to the initiative. They say that the regulations of the drug’s DUI standard would cause users to fail days after smoking, which is not consistent with an alcohol-related DUI.

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Comments | More in State | Topics: I-502, law enforcement, marijuana

May 25, 2012 at 8:43 AM

Drug smuggling, immigration and federal enforcement push border town to the brink

Richard Sinks, spokesman for the Blaine sector of Border Patrol, stands in front of the Peace Arch along the U.S.-Canada border. (Photo by Celina Kareiva / UW Election Eye)

Marijuana legalization and immigration are debates that impact every community in Washington. But for residents of a small city on the Canadian border, these issues hit especially close to home.

LYNDEN, Wash — The border between Washington state and Canada is demarcated by two parallel roads surrounded by long stretches of farmland.

As a boy, Gary Vis can remember darting through this area to a fishing hole where he and his friends used to spend summer afternoons.

“It was that easy to cross into Canada,” recalls the executive director of Lynden’s Chamber of Commerce.

Vis grew up among the raspberry fields and dairy farms of Lynden, WA. A small border city just south of Canada, Lynden was once known for having the most churches per square mile worldwide. Tulips fringe the sidewalks of the downtown square, and storefronts capitalize on the city’s Dutch heritage.

But behind this quaint facade is a city complicated by its proximity to the border.

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Comments | More in State | Topics: border, Border Patrol, Canada

May 22, 2012 at 8:08 AM

Wrap your head around this: Marijuana laws in Washington and Oregon

Matt Lewis collecting petitions at the Saturday market in Portland on May 13, 2012.(Photo by A.V. Crofts/UW Election Eye)

Washington and Oregon both legalized medical marijuana in 1998. Since then, there’s been amendments, initiatives, petitions, and proposals. Here’s a breakdown of the laws in our neighboring states, and a look at what lessons Washington can learn from Oregon as we consider legalization.

PORTLAND — During our second day in Portland, with temperatures nearing 90 degrees making it feel more like July than May, the UWEE team found a man collecting signatures at the Saturday Market. He was advocating for two initiatives that would make the Oregon marijuana law more lenient. We had seen similar efforts all over town.

Marijuana legalization will also be one of the hot-button issue in Washington this election season: Initiative-502 will be on your ballot in November.

According to New Approach Washington, a group supporting the ballot initiative, I-502 “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 and marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues.”

Phew — that’s a mouthful. In simpler terms, I-502 would legalize marijuana in Washington.

Well, sort of. 

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Comments | More in State | Topics: Ballot, I-502, marijuana legalization