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Group Pushing Pot Files Initiaties in Six WA Cities

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SEATTLE (AP) — A group that promotes the legalization of marijuana says it will file initiatives in six Washington cities to make prosecution for pot offenses the lowest law enforcement priority in those places.

Sensible Washington said Wednesday it would push the initiatives in Spokane, Olympia, Bellingham, Everett, Kent and Bremerton.

Seattle voters in 2003 passed an initiative making the investigation, arrest and prosecution of marijuana offenses, when the drug was intended for adult personal use, the lowest law enforcement priority. Voters in Tacoma passed a similar measure last year.

This fall, state voters will decide the fate of Initiative 502, a measure that would create a system of state-licensed growers, processors and stores, and impose a 25 percent excise tax at each stage. Those 21 and over could buy up to an ounce of dried marijuana; one pound of marijuana-infused product in solid form, such as brownies; or 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquids.

The initiative has several high-profile sponsors, including former Seattle U.S. Attorney John McKay and travel guide Rick Steves.

Washington state already has a voter-approved medical marijuana law that gives doctors the right to recommend — but not prescribe — marijuana for people suffering from cancer and other conditions that cause “intractable pain.”

A state analysis recently showed that I-502 could raise at least $560 million a year in new taxes. However, the analysis noted that revenues would be “adversely impacted” if federal authorities cracked down on the state, as they threatened to do when California voters were considering legalizing the drug in 2010. Marijuana is illegal under federal law.

– Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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