The Importance of Washington’s Legalization Initiative I-502

My declaration in my previous blog that activists who oppose the legalization initiative on the November ballot in Washington State are acting foolishly and counter to the interests of our movement provoked a reaction, not unexpectedly.

So I am writing about I-502 again.

In a perfect world, devoid of politics and where the rules of conduct in society are determined by principles of liberty and the full autonomy of the individual, the ideal circumstance for us would be where the governments of Mexico, the United States and Canada all strike marijuana and all controlled substances from the Controlled Drugs & Substances schedule.

In that ideal world, there would be, in fact, no regulatory regime of any kind governing what adults (adults being defined as independent, autonomous, self-sufficient entities making their own decisions – that is, not living at home under the largesse and responsibility of parents) can do with their bodies or their mind, limited only by the caveat that their actions be peaceful, honest and consenting.

That, to me, is the long-term goal that I have pursued politically as a libertarian for 33 years: to advocate whatever measures can lead us in the direction of greater liberty and individual autonomy. We live in a world where we have inherited a very imperfect and corrupted democracy, and where politics, not reason or principle, determine the landscape by which we are legally judged for our actions.

I have run for elected office 12 times from 1980 to 2009, not because I believe politics is legitimate (it isn’t), but because as a practical matter of self-defense I have to articulate the vision of a proper social system that my fellow citizens can embrace, and, over time, advocate and agitate towards in whatever peaceful way possible that our times allow.

In truth, in my lifetime, politics has not liberated us nearly as much as technology and science. What defeated censorship was instantaneous electronic communication like the internet and smartphones. What defeated ‘blue laws’, restricting when stores can retail, was 24-hour online shopping. What defeated laws prohibiting explicit sex depictions was VCRs, then DVDs, then the internet. Gambling happens on the internet, largely neutering gambling restriction laws. RU-42 pills make an abortion available bypassing government control. Most government prohibition attempts have a technologically liberating response. That is how the seed revolution I started, to ‘Overgrow the Government’, succeeded. It made the mass dissemination of cannabis genetics possible using modern mail and the internet.

Politics, and the process of government control of the people, is a corrupt and discredited holdover of the past, and people are extremely cynical about it – young people especially. In Canada and the US we have dysfunctional democracies where a majority of citizens want marijuana legalized, but almost no representation in the Parliament or Congress or White House work to make that happen. The most suitable act to end the prohibitions in all three countries would be to end the scheduling of drugs and let individuals decide what to put in their bodies. This would draw to an immediate close the illegal drug markets, the cartels, gangs, SWAT teams, most police forces, most prisons, the narco-corruption of governments, the tens of thousands of killings, the lucrative profits, the tragic waste of our resources, the criminal records that over 25,000,000 living North Americans have for a drug conviction.

Prices for all these substances in a legalized world would no longer drain us of our personal finances nor our tax payments, and those who want marijuana or other drugs would no longer consort with, join, or subsidize organized gangs; the streets would be safer; there would be more money for medical care, hospitals, doctors, education, and much less taxes needed for prisons, police, militaries, border guards, Homeland Security, the surveillance apparatus, SWAT police, courts, sheriffs. Fewer people would be on welfare, vastly fewer people would have guns and criminal records.

In short, the lives of everyone on the planet would be perceptively improved immediately upon ending prohibition, and would continue to improve as the grim specter of prohibition receded. Once the cancer of prohibition, the greatest policy disaster in the history of humankind, ends, restoration of human dignity, choice, public safety, the credibility and effectiveness of our institutions would transpire. The effect would be revolutionary, making the world of the post-prohibition future unrecognizable to our sadly failed world today.

To repeat: It would be the greatest boon in the history of humankind, for every one of us on planet Earth, to end the prohibition and the pernicious drug war that flows from it.

But because of politics, it does not happen.

Instead, those who care, and are aware (and we are gaining in numbers and influence every day), must participate in this corrupt political arena and seek out directional improvements to the sordid status quo. The most we can accomplish in this system are tiny, incomplete, hardly-satisfying steps that take us only fractionally toward the ultimate ideal of a prohibition-free society. And even that is tough work, and very rarely does it happen.

So I rejoice when, for example, my friend and esteemed lawyer Kirk Tousaw spends months in a Canadian courtroom to have a judge, over a period of years in the making, declare that, “Yes, a Canadian with a medical marijuana exemption card can indeed possess cannabis infused cookies as well as dried marijuana legally.” Tiny little victories, and but a tiny bit more freedom for just a few. Not even freedom for many, but a few. A lot of work to achieve, in the big picture, a little bit more liberty. But what other choice does Kirk have? Should we all sit around and wait for a perfect world to exist before we support small steps towards that perfection? Of course not.

We did try, indeed, to have the entire marijuana prohibition struck down in court in 2003. I was largely responsible for funding the 2003 David Malmo-Levine challenge in the Canadian Supreme Court, to strike down marijuana prohibition, but we lost, the Justices voting 6-3 against us. The three francophone (French) judges were with us, and said, clearly, marijuana prohibition is unconstitutional. The six Anglophone (English speaking judges), the bastards, all ruled against us, saying “marijuana consumers have no more a constitutional right to cannabis than cannibals have a constitutional right to practice cannibalism”! (I kid you not, they did indeed write that). We can’t get a re-do in the Supreme Court. So we have to chip away at the edges of prohibition.

In British Columbia, 68% of citizens want legalized marijuana. Four former BC Attorneys-General have come out saying legalize marijuana. Eight current BC Mayors say legalize marijuana. Four former Mayors of Vancouver said we should legalize marijuana. The entire 10 members of Vancouver city council recently voted to endorse ending marijuana prohibition. “So what does it take to get ‘er done?!” you ask? Secede from Canada and declare British Columbia sovereign? I mean, at what point do politicians, our political representatives, acknowledge this and act on it? And if they fail to act on it, why?

The scourges of prohibition – and there are dozens of toxic byproducts that emerge from drug wars and prohibition – are SO obvious, the only reason politicians, one would conclude, maintain the prohibition is because they are totally with the gangs, cartels, and the other violent, murderous prohibition profiteers. Those who support prohibition are fully aware of the tragic consequences of this insidious policy, and yet, they fully endorse it. They prop up the gangsters and the control/prison/punishment complex despite the brutal harm caused to billions of people on earth.

Is there any greater definition of evil?

The need for systemic revolution is great. And yet, all we can do is chip away at this grotesque injustice by tinkering at the local level, the state and provincial level, by writing our Congresspeople and Parliamentarians (admittedly in a largely futile expense of effort), by educating, by going to rallies, and, if motivated suitably, by voting. It’s essential to participate in this horrible, inefficient, disappointing, corrupt, unsatisfying, frustrating democratic process. Simply because we must. To disengage from the political process is not an option, because it surrenders the system to the exploiters and demagogues who by and large have far too much influence now.

In British Columbia we have a ‘Sensible BC’ campaign coming up, where 350,000 signatures must be gathered in a period of 90 days to put on the September 2014 ballot, in a special referendum, an initiative stating no taxpayer money will be spent in BC on the arrest, jailing, prosecution, investigation of any person involving the possession of marijuana. (Currently 3,583 people in BC every year are charged with marijuana possession – that’s ten every day in a province of 4.4 million people, the highest possession arrest rate in any province in Canada.)

It’s an enormous, almost impossible threshold of signatures to gather in 90 days. A staggering amount of people will need to gather signatures in such a short time for what is surely a very modest proposal. Paid signature gathering is not permitted under the legislation governing referendums. There is no federal referendum process in Canada where we can challenge the federal law that perpetuates the nationwide prohibition; this is true also for the US federal government.

The wording of a state initiative is a very tricky thing. It must be worded so that the legislation sought is constitutional under state law. It must be politically weighted to attract at least 50% of the voters who vote on that day. It must appeal to a broad cross-section of voters, those directly affected, and those indirectly affected. It must have adequate safeguards to quell the vitriol of opponents who may be expected to oppose the initiative. For a principled person to support the initiative, it must extend liberty to the people in a greater degree than currently exists.

Washington State’s legalization initiative I-502, by New Approach Washington, provides that hundreds of retail outlets currently selling alcohol in the state will be legally authorized to sell legal cannabis in quantities up to one ounce at a time per adult 21 years of age or over. Those adults, 21 to 100 years of age (and older), can possess and transport it. Producers of the cannabis provided to these hundreds of outlets will be from Washington State licensed growers. There will be taxes added on top of the retail price.

Most people in the cannabis community would find these provisions a positive step forward, and many in the non-toking community will too. Important questions do remain, such as, will the retail price be low enough to discourage people from growing and selling their own? Will the price be low enough to discourage black market dealing? How will producer licenses be issued?

The most controversial aspect of this proposed legalization legislation is the proposed statute that says driving a vehicle with over 5 nanograms of active THC in the system is a DUI offense. Police would require one of the three elements of probable cause to take a blood sample: 1) cannabis smoke, 2) impaired or dangerous driving, or 3) being involved in an auto accident. For an explanation of what the DUI provisions mean, see the I-502 DUI fact sheet here:

In Michigan, the Court of Appeal there on April 17, 2012 ruled that the state had a ‘zero tolerance’ for any THC in the system of any driver called on to provide a blood sample, in the case of an accident investigation that prompted the appearance before the court. The defendant in the case had a Michigan medical marijuana card and the court ruled that nonetheless it was considered impairment to have any active THC in his system.

In British Columbia, police can take a blood sample at any time they consider a driver impaired; probable cause includes dangerous driving, being involved in a car accident, and the smell of burned marijuana in the vehicle. Now, despite the law permitting this, blood samples are rarely taken – and mostly at accident scenes, if ever. DUI punishments are severe in British Columbia for a first offense, resulting in loss of drivers license for three months, impounding of vehicle for one month, counseling for a year, and a breathalyzer-tester-for-ignition device installed at the expense of the driver once his vehicle is out of impound. The expenses involved in the first DUI add up to around $4,000!

So the 5 nanograms/per milliliter threshold in I-502 is broadminded by comparison, and provides a window of driving opportunity for anyone who hasn’t smoked in six hours. Bear in mind that the law, right now, does not allow anyone to drive while smoking cannabis. So this DUI provision is no worse than what already exists, and in fact, the rest of I-502 is tremendously better than what already exists in law.

It’s possible or likely any legalization initiative that passes would be subject to being pre-empted by the Washington DC federal government. But that does not mean we should refuse to support an imperfect law. Opponents of I-502 say the federal government won’t allow I-502 to happen and that’s reason to not support it, but that is no different than saying that any legalization initiative is not worth supporting because the federal government won’t allow it to happen. Do they think that a ‘better’, less restrictive initiative wouldn’t be pre-empted by the federal government? Of course not. That pre-emption argument is a very poor reason to oppose I-502.

In November, the only initiatives that provide this huge leap forward are Washington state and Colorado, with Oregon very close to also getting a legalization initiative on the ballot. These initiatives, if passed, put huge pressure on the federal government – and there is, ultimately, no other alternative. These initiatives force a confrontation between the lawful process of the state initiatives and the intransigence of the federal government.

I-502 provides for a retail infrastructure that would be more accessible that any other system in the world. Even in Amsterdam, you can legally buy no more than 5 grams of cannabis at a time; I-502 would allow an ounce at a time to be purchased. (And beginning next year, Netherlands law forbids the sale to foreigners, though this is expected to be flouted. But in law, foreigners will have no legal protection. In fact, it still isn’t legal in the Netherlands to possess marijuana; it’s merely tolerated.)

Under I-502, it’s not considered a violation of state or local law to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, and the state will be the agency of distribution in hundreds of outlets throughout the state. You’ll be able to legally buy marijuana, legally transport the weed home, and legally possess and consume it. That is incredible, and there is no other place on earth that has legislation like that in place.

Because it will be a legal substance, it can be smoked without stigma, and the threat of dismissal from work if you are known to have smoked marijuana (Facebook photos, staff parties, etc.) evaporates. Because it would be legal, state prisoners would no longer be considered to be violating their parole, probation or bail conditions if in possession or testing positive for THC (for federal prisoners, it may still be a violation). Because it would be legal under state law, cannabis use couldn’t be used against a mother or father in a custody dispute.

All production to service the hundreds of I-502 legal outlets would be legalized and licensed, the price over a short time would drop, and the varieties over time would be widened and varied. Newspapers would be reviewing all the different legal strains of cannabis on sale, just as wines or beers are reviewed.

Because legalization at the state level will remove the stigma, we can foresee that university students, who tend to dangerously binge on alcohol, will use more cannabis, since whenever they buy alcohol, the cannabis will be available at that location too. No more loss of student financial aid because of a cannabis conviction.

There are about 10,000 arrests in Washington State annually for possession; this will end. For minorities, mothers, college and university students, those who use public transit, those who don’t own a car, the benefits are huge. Even though the law provides legality to those age 21 and up, those 16 to 20 years of age will know that within a very short time, they too will be afforded legal protection for the rest of their life.

I’ve heard it said that I-502 does not deserve support because no protection is offered to those 16 to 20, but as we all know, this is the same as the law is now; if I-502 passes, it doesn’t get worse for those under 21, and because marijuana will be so much wider in its distribution, the reality is that it will be far more accessible for those 18-20 of age after I-502 is in effect. Is it right to allow adults and seniors to continue facing arrest and persecution for possession, just because kids and teens up to 21 years of age won’t be able to legally buy marijuana? Of course not.

I-502 would normalize the use, consumption, production and possession of marijuana, and this effect would be contagious to voters and legislators in other states. It would also provide a huge tax revenue bounty for the Washington State and Colorado governments, and this will attract the attention of other state jurisdictions, and ultimately, lawmakers in Washington, DC.


Most of our people in the cannabis culture who smoke, grow, or sell the herb don’t vote. The vast majority will never give money to political reform of any kind, most won’t gather signatures (unless they are paid) and will never write their congressperson or even a letter to the newspaper to condemn prohibition.

Despite Presidential candidate Ron Paul wanting to end the entire federal drug war (and having advocating this for 30+ years) and having been passionate about complete legalization even on his speaking trips to Washington State, saying in Seattle, “Why can’t we put into our bodies whatever we want?”, almost every Washington state legalization activist refused to vote for Ron Paul in the Washington primaries, with many preferring to support the arch-enemy of the pot people, Barack Obama, who has continued and increased the drug war and other unjust and worrisome laws and policies such as spying, torture, war, and more.

For the most part, our people are politically useless, unwilling and unable to organize, distracted by petty acrimony, and won’t actively support candidates or initiatives that will further the legalization of cannabis. For all the 250,000 stoners/pot people who come to Seattle Hempfest each August, the organizers can’t even get this mass to contribute pennies per person in donations, so pathetic is the sense of political responsibility among our people. Even a tremendous event like Hempfest suffers deficits because our people can’t collectively volunteer to give even ten cents per attendee to pay for its costs. Sad, sad, sad.

So we are left depending on straight people, who have a very casual affiliation at best with our culture – they might know someone who is a medical user, or smokes pot, or they smoked themselves in college – but who believe certain aspects of the drug war are wrong and counter-productive. (Still, we have many to convince; women with children and people over 65 are the toughest demographic to win over to the legalization argument, although the over-65 crowd is getting more on board gradually.)

It is not always obvious who is supporting prohibition and who is opposing it. California’s Proposition 19 campaign in 2010 to pass the greatest legalization initiative ever offered to voters in history failed because the prohibition profiteers, including those allegedly in our own culture, worked so hard to defeat it. They feared losing their control and profits in the industry, and decided to maintain prohibition instead of supporting legalization.

Sadly, enough California prohibition profiteers and betrayers undermined the greatest opportunity in a generation to legalize production, possession and use of marijuana for all citizens in 2010 with Proposition 19. There will not be another Richard Lee, and there isn’t another Richard Lee – the DEA and Obama have taken care of that, shutting him down, stopping him from ever financing another legalization proposition in that state. And that’s a tragedy that every day Californians ought to regret. I never heard then, and I have never heard since, any rational argument offered to oppose Proposition 19. It was greed, self-interest, and paranoia offered as so-called explanations for opposing it.

When Steve Kubby put forward the ‘Regulate Marijuana Like Wine’ proposed initiative this year, I knew it would fail because, despite the California marijuana industry going through several billions of dollars each year, 99.9% of those earning that money don’t give a damn about legalization, and never have. Proposition 215 has created a prohibition-profiteering monster than now feeds on its own success, the legal right to produce cannabis without fear of arrest while selling the product at hugely inflated prohibition profits, well beyond what a legal market could justify. Richard Lee was a saint for all of California, and he is forcibly retired now. Shame on you, Californians, for your dereliction of justice and duty to the movement!

The California situation was right out of the classic British Ealing Studios class-war film with its eponymous title and climactic greatest scene, where the one sane person in the film castigates everyone from unions to capital to government over the ‘British disease’, calling them out for saying “I’ve got mine, and screw you, mate, I’m All Right, Jack!”

Sensible Washington, the tenuous coalition of activists who made a decent effort to get a ‘grass-roots’ initiative on the ballot in 2010, suffered because, like California, our people won’t cough up any money. Seems activists are broke and have no connections to cash. From that ‘nice try’ in 2010 where signature gathering fell 100,000 signatures short, it was a very depressing bad try in 2011, to a ‘no try’ for 2012. But most disappointingly, their response is to work hard to defeat the perhaps-not-perfect-but-still-better-than-even-Amsterdam legalization initiative I-502!

I-502 is outstanding legislation at this particular point in the cannabis liberation movement’s political history. The nay-sayers may fume and deride it, but it is much sound and fury signifying nothing. I-502 is supported by many politicians and officials – the very same people we’ve all been working for so many years to bring on board to legalize cannabis. Suddenly, after they join our cause and put a legalization initiative on the ballot to allow adults to legally buy and use marijuana, they are viewed with suspicion, and even protested against!

Should I-502 fail to pass in November, we’ll know who to blame, and who can be held responsible. The so-called grassroots could not manage to get their own initiative on the ballot, and in their frustration, they may choose to sabotage the best opportunity Washington State has had in the long history of prohibition to do what is possible – under the political reality of the day – to legalize marijuana.

You, my friend, should do what you can to make history, and have Washington State be the first (or amongst the first) state to legalize marijuana in the United States. So get out and vote YES on I-502 on the first Tuesday this November!

Marc Emery
Marc Emery

Marc Emery is a Canadian cannabis activist, entrepreneur, and politician. Known to his fans as the Prince of Pot, Emery has been a notable advocate of international cannabis policy reform for decades. Marc is the founding publisher of Cannabis Culture and Pot TV.



  1. Anonymous on

    This shows clearly that the US federal government laughs at the state rights that once existed. Feds will boldly trump any state. The only way this law would work is if the state of Washington mobilized it’s National Guard and the Federal government chose not to demolish their opposition, which they could. It would take the will of the people of many states and their state’s government to resist the Federal government on this issue. Is anyone ready to fight a civil war over marijuana? I doubt it. Behind it, the human rights issue is much more important than the plant. Still, I don’t see anything changing short of a revolution because those with power rarely give it up willingly. It will have to be changed on a Federal level, not state…

  2. Anonymous on

    I agree, and Marc’s letter has convinced me to vote yes. Seems like what’s floating around, to use your analogy, is the idea that along with being offered only 5 hours of beatings is a test that could make it more likely for you to be raped. Since the law could be chopped into pieces by a higher level of governance, the fear is they’ll end up with 10 hours of beatings still, but now with the additional raping. Why? Because the same people doing the 10 hours of beatings don’t feel like stopping, but the idea of adding raping sounds OK to them…

    In the end, it could at least show the US and world what is desired. If it is trampled on by our government, at least it will make the news… One hopes it would turn out better, but trust is hard to find in this climate.

  3. Anonymous on

    The opponents of 502 live in a “fact-free” world.

    Current prices (thousands of dollars a pound @ wholesale) have HUGE profit margins built into them, because unlike legitimate products, cannabis is illegal – so producers and sellers demand an enormous premium for the risks they take.

    Making matters worse are the realities of illicit production. Terrified by the prospect of detection and prosecution by law enforcement, growers are forced to grow in either miniscule quantities (grow-houses), or in the middle of nowhere (a costly logistical nightmare).

    The ENTIRE purpose of legalizing production is to undercut the black market – and it will. Under 502, grow-houses will become grow-warehouses. Guerrilla-grows will become mechanized farms.

    To believe that 502 will cause prices to rise is to deny the existence of economies-of-scale (hardly a controversial idea).

    Wholesale prices will fall below $1500/lb. Retail prices will halve – all while both quality and consumer safety improve. Anyone who tells you otherwise knows NOTHING about economics.

    Vote YES on I-502.

  4. Anonymous on

    By, “greedy fuck”, do you mean, “someone who won’t pay the pig a massive bribe to let us live free”?
    Don’t any of you remember the Fed’s “Marijuana Tax Stamp” sting? The Feds said, “All you have to do is pay for the tax stamp for each ounce that you want to possess and you will be legal.” When people abided by the “legal” requirement to bring the amount of cannabis in to the FDA that they wanted to pay for (tax stamps) they were all arrested and prosecuted.
    Whenever a person signs a permit, license, or any other form required by a regulatory system, they will be signing a confession to a federal crime, to wit; “Conspiracy to Manufacture and Distribute a Dangerous Drug”. The Feds can prosecute you without having to even prove that you know what cannabis looks like. You have already confessed in writing to criminal intent. You are sheep being led to the slaughter.
    Second, the law enacts a 25% tax at each transaction. So:
    1. Grower sells to broker/distributer @ $2,400. per pound so
    must add 25% ($600.) to pound price = $3,200. per pound.
    2. Broker/Distributor sells pound to “State Licensed Store”
    for cost @$3,200. + 25% tax($800.) + 25% profit = $5,000.
    per pound.
    3. “State Licensed Store” sells to consumers for cost @
    $5,000. per lb. + 25% tax ($1,250.) + 50% profit = $9,375.
    per pound. Divide by 454 grams = $20.65 per gram or $72.+
    per eigth of an ounce.
    4. In this example, note that I-502 is creating a tax which
    totals $2,650. on one $2,400. pound.
    5. Now add in the income taxes for all three entities, sales
    tax plus licenses and other fees. In Colorado, where this
    type of “regulation” is already in place, licenses to grow
    cost many thousands of dollars per year!
    Passing I-502 will easily double or triple the cost of cannabis to the consumer. Fact.
    I currently pay $10.-$12. per gram at my collective/dispensary
    in Tacoma and always have an excellent selection of high quality, well-grown cannabis available to me. With a medical card (easily obtainable) anyone can currently have that resource at their disposal.
    Finally, the blood level limit is just another license for abuse by the pig, who will say anything to get you tested if he recognizes you as a likely user. All he/she has to say is that they smelled it or observed impaired driving. Your word against the pig. Who’s gonna win that?
    Also, we may be disappointed in Obama’s failure to keep his word but what do you think will happen if one of these bible-thumping fascists (ever) get elected?
    I’m astounded that so many of you are willing to get in bed with the same public parasites and predators who have always justified their existance by destroying the lives of innocent people. They deserve expulsion from our society rather than the vast enrichment (bribery) which I-502 will provide them. Fuck them, and fuck I-502. Those who support I-502 are police shills (Sorry Marc but, you are dead to me now). I-502 was written by cops and their lackeys. The lemmings and shills will follow.

  5. Anonymous on

    Marc is absolutely right that I-502 needs everyone’s FULL support! It may not be a perfect law but the stigma needs to be removed and this medicine needs to be safely available. Anyone who opposes I-502 is a greedy fuck and deserves financial prohibition!

  6. Anonymous on


  7. Anonymous on

    The people responsible for the war on drugs will be judged for what they represent by future generations. Their legacy is injustice, corruption, murder, or whatever it takes to put themselves in the spotlight, mostly at the expence of their own taxpaying citizens. My moral values forced me to discontinue any co-operation and dealings with my own government, unfortunately… I initially needed to quit working for them as military personnel, I also refuse paying most taxes (legal loophole), and I haven’t voted in the last few ‘elections’, while it’s still mandatory here. Because I’m well known by the local police department (in a good way, that is…) I’m pretty much on the safe side for now. They know I haven’t got a criminal record, but they’re also aware of my defiant nature in general. I prefer non violent resistance, but I won’t hesitate for a second to take up arms, if I’m forced to defend my rights, and/or my fellow citizens against this ‘new world order’ tiranny. Fight the power! Never compromise!

  8. Anonymous on

    Thank you Marc and Jodie for continuing to fight the good fight and doing the good work necessary to end cannabis prohibition despite the adversity you both face with Marc’s wrongful imprisonment.


    TriXteR Phillips

  9. Anonymous on

    I do hate to correct Mister Emery but I was looking into the propaganda put forward by cannabis consumers who oppose I-502 and discovered that I-502 will legalize what are now felony amounts of marijuana under the Revised Code of Washington’s Chapter 69.50-Uniform Controlled Substances Act. I included a link to the article I wrote that contains links to all the resources as well as you can see the other article I have written concerning the misinformation, half-truths, and lies of the cannabis consumers who support prohibition by fighting tooth and nail against I-502.


    TriXteR Phillips

    I-502, legalization, Class C felony amounts permitted, and the facts with a dash of opinion.

    The misinformation, half-truths, and lies put forth by I-502’s opposition abound throughout the assertions and arguments put forth as reasons for vehemently opposing the passage of I-502. One of the most insidious of these is the lie that I-502 will only make a legal exception for misdemeanor amounts of Marijuana. I-502, when it passes, will legalize amounts that currently fall into Class C Felony amounts of Marijuana under Washington state law and this will be the legalization under Washington’s Revised Code for the specified amounts of Marijuana put forth by I-502, as you will see.


    Google Dictionary

    Definition for legalization:

    Web definitions: the act of making lawful.

    Google Dictionary

    The Free Dictionary


    tr.v. le·gal·ized, le·gal·iz·ing, le·gal·iz·es

    To make legal or lawful; authorize or sanction by law

    legal·i·zation n.

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

    legalize, legalise

    vb (tr)

    1. (Law) to make lawful or legal

    2. (Law) to confirm or validate (something previously unlawful)

    legalization , legalisation n

    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

    Marijuana or Marihuana, Defined by Washington Statute

    Chapter 69.50 RCW Uniform controlled substances act

    RCW 69.50.101


    (q) “Marijuana” or “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis, whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds or resin. The term does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination.

    RCW 69.50.101 Definitions


    (((q))) (s) “Marijuana” or “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis, whether growing or not, with a THC concentration greater than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds or resin. The term does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination.

    I-502 Bookmarked [PDF page 7]





    NEW SECTION. Sec. 15.

    NEW SECTION. Sec. 15. The following acts, when performed by a validly licensed marijuana retailer or employee of a validly licensed retail outlet in compliance with rules adopted by the state liquor control board to implement and enforce this act, shall not constitute criminal or civil offenses under Washington state law:

    (1) Purchase and receipt of useable marijuana or marijuana-infused products that have been properly packaged and labeled from a marijuana processor validly licensed under this act;

    (2) Possession of quantities of useable marijuana or marijuana infused products that do not exceed the maximum amounts established by the state liquor control board under section 10(5)[Included Bellow] of this act; and

    (3) Delivery, distribution, and sale, on the premises of the retail outlet, of any combination of the following amounts of useable marijuana or marijuana-infused product to any person twenty-one years of age or older:

    (a) One ounce of useable marijuana;

    (b) Sixteen ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form; or

    (c) Seventy-two ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form.

    I-502 Bookmarked [PDF page 25]

    NEW SECTION. Sec. 10.

    NEW SECTION. Sec. 10. The state liquor control board, subject to the provisions of this act, must adopt rules by December 1, 2013, that Code Rev/AI:crs 19 I-2465.1/11 establish the procedures and criteria necessary to implement the following:

    NEW SECTION. Sec 10.(5) Determining the maximum quantities of useable marijuana and marijuana-infused products a marijuana retailer may have on the premises of a retail outlet at any time without violating Washington state law;

    I-502 Bookmarked [PDF pages 20 and 21]

    RCW 69.50.4014

    Possession of forty grams or less of marihuana — Penalty.

    Except as provided in RCW 69.50.401(2)(c), any person found guilty of possession of forty grams or less of marihuana is guilty of a misdemeanor.

    Revised Code of Washington 69.50.4014 Possession of forty grams or less of marijuana – Penalty.

    RCW 69.50.401

    Prohibited acts: A — Penalties.

    (1)Except as authorized by this chapter, it is unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver, a controlled substance.

    (2) Any person who violates this section with respect to:

    (c) Any other controlled substance classified in Schedule I, II, or III, is guilty of a class C felony punishable according to chapter 9A.20 RCW;

    Revised Code of Washington 69.50.401 Prohibited acts: A — Penalties.

    RCW 69.50.204

    Schedule I.

    Unless specifically excepted by state or federal law or regulation or more specifically included in another schedule, the following controlled substances are listed in Schedule I:

    (c) Hallucinogenic substances. Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another schedule, any material, compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of the following hallucinogenic substances, including their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers whenever the existence of those salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible within the specific chemical designation. For the purposes of this subsection only, the term “isomer” includes the optical, position, and geometric isomers:

    (22) Marihuana or marijuana;

    Revised Code of Washington 69.50.204 Schedule I.

    RCW 9A.20.020

    Authorized sentences for crimes committed before July 1, 1984.

    (1) Felony. Every person convicted of a classified felony shall be punished as follows:

    (c) For a class C felony, by imprisonment in a state correctional institution for a maximum term of not more than five years, or by a fine in an amount fixed by the court of not more than ten thousand dollars, or by both such imprisonment and fine.

    Revised Code of Washington 9A.20.020 Authorized sentences for crimes committed before July 1, 1984.

    My Opinion

    Would it be Harry J. Anslinger or William Randolph Hurst who would be most proud of the I-502’s cannabis consuming opposition? Both is what I would bet on and it appears that again that the cannabis consumers in opposition to I-502 are utilizing they play books of these two men who are arguably the great-grandfathers of cannabis prohibition.

    We cannot achieve our goal of cannabis legalization if cannabis consumers who oppose a particular initiative or amendment utilize the tactics of misinformation, half-truths, and lies, we can only sink our righteous cause and ourselves to the level of malevolency the drug warriors and politicians sink to maintain cannabis prohibition.

    To see the article with the visual enhancements and active links check out:

  10. Anonymous on

    I had the opportunity to debate Dr. Kevin Sabet in March. He’s the architect of the new “Kinder Gentler Drug War” rhetoric you hear from the Drug Czar these days. He was Gil Kerlikowske’s right-hand man from 2009-2011. I asked him, “Kevin, what do you think of this I-502 legalization effort in Washington State? I’ve got people commenting on my blog that the Drug Czar must love it because it enacts a per se DUID.”

    Dr. Sabet just rolled his eyes and chuckled at me. “No, I assure you, we remain opposed to legalization of marijuana.”

    There are three choices in November:
    1) You can vote for I-502 and with every drug law reform organization in America to begin the ending of prohibition.
    2) You can vote against I-502 and with the Drug Czar for continuing prohibition.
    3) You can not vote and let other people decide whether we should begin the ending of prohibition.

  11. Anonymous on

    Thanks for your well thought out blog about supporting I-502. I am with you in favoring the need to move the political ball down the court, closer to our goal of legalization, and I agree that the benefits of passing I-502 outweigh the negatives in the initiative. It is much easier to fix any problems with it once it is passed, than to make meaningful reform from our current prohibitionist, outsider position. We need to send a message to the feds, law enforcement, and the rest of the world that the majority supports legalization. The whole world is watching.

    The dissension in this movement saddens me. I love and respect many of the people who are currently opposing this initiative. But, this is on the ballot, and so there is an opportunity to do something positive for cannabis consumers and for the world. Marc hit many of the points on the nose. We can’t afford to wait for the more perfect initiative to come along. It may never happen. There is too much riding on it. I am sick of being treated like a second-class citizen. Our time has come. I don’t live in Washington, so I can’t vote for it, but I urge our friends there to vote yes for the sake of our country and the rest of the world.

  12. Anonymous on

    Jeffrey Steinborn (NORML Board of Directors): “I-502 is a government sting disguised as reform. The proposed law has no chance of surviving a court challenge based upon its requirement that all participants incriminate themselves by registering. The case law on this issue is plentiful and unanimous. This issue is not subject to debate. I’m astounded that so many intelligent, well-meaning people are able to ignore this glaring flaw and support the proposed initiative.

    “What’s wrong with a state law that attempts to legalize and regulate cannabis through a system requiring that participants register with the state or be licensed by the state? One federal judge recently called the idea delusional. Confidential records held by state authorities can and will be subpoenaed by federal law enforcement. In the most recent litigation of the issue, records reflecting registration by persons participating in Michigan’s medical marijuana program were subpoenaed by the DEA. Michigan adopted a medical marijuana law which included registration provisions. The law provided confidentiality for those who registered. The DEA subpoenaed those records. The federal judge who heard the case not only upheld the validity of the subpoena, he ridiculed the people who’d imagined that a state law could trump the federal law.

    “On page 13 of his opinion the judge writes: ‘The nationwide federal law against marijuana, and the nationwide federal organizations that enforce that law, were the same the day after Michigan adopted the MMMA (Michigan Medical Marijuana Act) as they were the day before. They did not go away. Thus, no reasonable person can expect to have a right of privacy from federal investigation when they violate federal laws. The MMMA card affords its holder no greater cloak of privacy than did the emperor’s new clothes. To believe the contrary is simply to close one’s eyes to reality. But when you open your eyes, the emperor is still naked; the elephant is still in the room.’

    “The reference, of course, is to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about an emperor who was convinced by swindlers to believe he was wearing beautiful clothes, when in fact he was naked.”

    “I-502 is quite specific about this issue. It modifies RCW 69.50.500 to require that the Liquor Control Board cooperate with federal law enforcement agencies. This is the same agency that’s given the responsibility to license and regulate cannabis. If that’s not a sting operation, I respectfully await some other explanation.”

  13. Anonymous on

    Not every form of legalization is worth supporting. 502 appears to hand over the economy to a small handfull of already wealthy liquor pushers, and threatens to paint all cannabis users as impaired drivers. Marc or Jodie should do a point by point response to what anti-502 activists are actually saying rather than ignoring all these very important points:

    An Examination of Faults: Initiative 502 in a Nutshell
    NO ON I-502 | MAY 6, 2012 BY NOI502_USER | 3 COMMENTS

    Initiative 502 has caused a rift in the cannabis reform movement. It never had to be this way. Here are a couple of quick, initial points that should have immediately set off alarms for those who wrote this initiative:

    One of our Drug Czar’s top national policies is encouraging states throughout the nation to adopt a per se DUID policy (as mandated for cannabis in Initiative 502). This is because it makes it easy to prosecute unimpaired drivers simply for having cannabis in their system (potentially from days ago).

    Some of the most renowned and respected organizations in the cannabis law reform movement have been fighting adamantly, for years, against the same type of limit mandated in Initiative 502. For example, the Marijuana Policy Project calls this same limit “absurd“; the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has warned us about these type of limits, and are currently doing an alert to stop the same limit in Colorado. In addition, many other legalization supporters have worked strenuously to stop per se DUID limits from catching on.

    When voting to “legalize” cannabis, one doesn’t expect sharing (such as passing a joint/bowl in a circle) to continue as a class C felony, nor do they expect growing even a single plant to remain completely illegal.

    Those who support legalization know how unethical zero tolerance policies are. The Marijuana Policy Project in a 2010 statement called zero tolerance driving laws “cruel, unusual, and bad public policy“. This is why it’s so alarming that I-502 mandates this type of policy for those under 21, ignoring the fact that individuals can possess and use medical cannabis in our state under 21.

    Speaking further on how divided this has made the community; there are many who fear that, if not done right, legalization will lead to a complete government take-over of cannabis. Although this doesn’t have to be the case, Initiative 502 mandates it as truth. Initiative 502, for example:

    Gives the Liquor Control Board the authority to control and regulate the amount of THC in the cannabis being sold in the proposed retail locations.

    Gives the Liquor Control Board the authority to control the number of cannabis retail locations per county, potentially setting it at one, or in certain counties, zero: although current legal realities lead us to believe no license will ever be distributed, and the entire distribution system will be challenged and defeated in court as you can’t force a state to accept taxes from a federally illegal substance, as encoded into our Federal Controlled Substances Act.

    Forces all business applicants (whether for growing or selling) to submit their fingerprints to the FBI, more than likely leading to harsh federal penalties placed upon those who may feel they’re protected under state law.
    Claims to address the issue of hemp, but they do so by mandating arbitrary restrictions, forcing farmers to keep hemp at or under 0.3% or risk state prosecution (ignoring even the issue with federal law). This is not the route we should be taking with hemp, especially when the North American Industrial Hemp Council declares hemp as typically having up to 1% THC, and sometimes up to 3%.

    New Approach Washington (NAW), the sponsor organization of Initiative 502, has continually spread misinformation and lies. For example:

    NAW currently claims that Initiative 502 won’t fall victim to federal preemption (being rendered invalid in court under federal law), yet their own Campaign Director, when answering a question on the Stranger’s Questionland, stated; “Such a system [a marijuana distribution/regulation system] would most likely require someone to break federal law (depositing sales tax in a bank would constitute money laundering, for example) and therefore be vulnerable to a federal preemption challenge”.

    NAW claims that I-502 treats cannabis like alcohol. This is obviously a falsity. For example, you can purchase an unlimited amount of alcohol, unlike the arbitrary one ounce limit introduced for cannabis. Passing a beer to a friend isn’t felony distribution as it would be with cannabis under I-502 if passing a joint or bowl. Unlike with alcohol, if two individuals are in the same vehicle, each with their “legal” ounce, they can still be hit with a constructive possession felony charge under I-502. In addition, clearly unlike alcohol; under I-502, possessing just 50% more than the “legal” amount will land you with a felony charge that holds a jail sentence of up to 5 years in prison (the same felony type and maximum sentence in Washington State as reckless burning in the 1st degree).

    NAW claims that Initiative 502 in no way changes our state’s current medical cannabis policy. However, unlike even Arizona and Rhode Island (who both have legal exclusions to their per se DUID policy for medical cannabis patients), Initiative 502 makes Washington State one of the only states in the country that have a per se DUID policy for cannabis without an exception for patients. Nevada is one of these other states, and the year after they instituted a per se limit for cannabis, there was a 76% increase in cannabis DUIs.

    NAW claims that they have the science behind the mandated per se DUID limit. This is clearly not true, as there is absolutely no scientific consensus to support any per se limit, better yet a specific 5 ng/ml limit. After the Colorado legislature voted down this exact limit in Colorado last year, they setup a working group to examine the issue, and they decided, after a lack of consensus, to deny a recommendation of a 5 ng/ml limit. In addition, State Rep. Roger Goodman (a friend of cannabis reform) introduced an even higher 8 ng/ml per se limit for THC not long ago, and revoked it after public backlash and after examining the science.
    NAW claims that we can easily change these problems later. This is clearly disingenuous, or at the very best, naive. As for the per se limit, “drugged” driving laws are essentially never decreased, and altering it would be a political impossibility, at least for the near future (a bill to retroactively protect patients from this limit didn’t even make it out of committee earlier this year). This initiative may also, and likely will, lead to any meaningful change to our cannabis policies getting pushed off for years, as the citizens of our state will feel like they’ve already “legalized” cannabis (and given that we won’t see the public safety, civil rights or economic benefits of legalized cannabis due to I-502?s faults, this could set a negative example that could turn people away from legalization throughout the state and country).
    The truth is, whether you’re in support of it or not, it’s hard to deny that Initiative 502 is riddled with faults, inconsistencies and dangerous policies. Washington State is one of the strongest supporters of legalized cannabis. We can do better. We encourage you to vote NO on Initiative 502, or, at the very least, beware of what you’re getting; which is not what it’s being presented as.

  14. Jodie on

    If I was imprisoned and being beaten with an iron bar for ten hours each and every day, and I was told I could continue that ten-hour daily routine, or I could get beaten for only five hours each day, I would sure as heck choose the five hour beating. I wouldn’t say “No thanks, I’ll pass, I want to wait for the option of no more beatings at all, thanks very much – so let this ten-hour beating continue.”

    This is how I feel about legalization initiatives… don’t continue the “bad” right now, turning down the “good”, in order to wait for the “perfect”. Less punishment and suffering is always better than more (or unchanged) punishment and suffering. And we can always keep working to change the “good” into the “perfect” after we have changed “bad” into “good”.

  15. Jodie on

    Continued prohibition and illegal marijuana puts ALL people at risk, every single day, all over the world. Far more risk than if I-502 passes. You still get to keep your medical marijuana protections and privileges.

  16. Jodie on

    Did you even read the full blog? To see all the reasons why he supports it? No? Obviously not, because you don’t address any of his reasons for supporting it.

  17. Anonymous on

    Times like this, I wish there was a thumbs down button. I’m really disappointed in your support of I-502. With that 5ng THC limit, it puts all medical marijuana patients at risk. Shame on you Mr Emery!