Seattle police chief and pot-legalization advocate Norm Stamper was an enthusiastic supporter of Initiative 502. He did countless interviews and wrote letters to the editor. "I hope you'll join me in voting YES on Initiative 502," he urged in one.
A month after the election, however, he tells SW that he's had a revelation.
"I now question whether Washington state's initiative needed to be as restrictive as it is," he says. In particular, he regrets the law's controversial DUI provisions, and also takes issue with its failure to allow home grows. Why is he bringing up these provisions now?
Well, before the election, 502 campaigners said that such restrictions were necessary to get a legalization initiative approved by the general public—drawing upon lessons learned from California's failed initiative, Proposition 19, especially in regards to the DUI provision. As 502 campaign director Alison Holcomb told SW, post-election surveys indicated that California voters were worried about stoned drivers.
But Colorado's successful legalization measure, Amendment 64, didn't have any DUI provision. It also allows limited home grows (six plants, to be exact). And yet, Stamper points out, that amendment passed by a "very, very healthy" margin, with 55 percent of voters giving it the thumbs-up—almost the same margin as Washington's more restrictive initiative.
NORML legal director Keith Stroup said the results in Washington and Colorado "open up the possibility that issues like DUID [driving under the influence of drugs] and home cultivation may not be as important as we initially thought."
According to Marijuana Policy Project spokesperson Mason Tvert, legislators in at least five states—Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire—have indicated an intent to submit marijuana regulation and taxation bills in the 2013 session. The successful ballot measures in Washington and Colorado have "emboldened legislators," observes Tvert, who said he also expects another ballot measure to be put forth in Oregon.
In Washington, meanwhile, Stamper says he expects 502's controversial provisions to be changed by either the courts or the legislature. Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) has already told SW he would like to hold hearings on the DUI provision.
As Stamper points out, however, the legislature can't mess with an initiative for two years.