(NaturalNews) The state of Washington could soon make history as the first U.S. state to legalize the sale of marijuana at the retail level, albeit with some very serious restrictions and heavy control by the state government. CBS Seattle reports that, if Initiative 502 passes on November 6, Washingtonians over the age of 21 will eventually be able to purchase heavily-taxed marijuana at state-licensed retail shops in a similar way to how they currently purchase liquor.
The intent of the bill, as officially stated in a 2011 filing, is to put an end to the treatment of adult marijuana use as a crime, and instead redirect law enforcement efforts towards addressing real offenses like violent and property crimes. Based on the construct of the law, Washington state would not only be able to end its participation in the fruitless "war on drugs," but also generate substantial revenue to improve schools, promote research, boost healthcare, and revitalize public infrastructure.
State-run marijuana supply chain would allow adults to purchase plant at state-run retail stores
If enacted, I502 would establish a statewide network of state-licensed marijuana growers, processors, and stores, the latter of which would sell the final product with an added 25 percent value added tax (VAT), or excise tax. During a single visit, adults over the age of 21 would be able to legally purchase up to one ounce of dried marijuana; one pound of marijuana-infused food in solid form: or 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquids or beverages.
The entire production and supply chain would be controlled by the Washington state government, which would be tasked with routinely testing the quality of the cannabis, as well as its content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant's primary psychoactive component. Growing marijuana at home; however, would still be illegal within the confines of I502, which some are decrying as counterfeit legalization.
I502 could eventually pave way for full legalization
On the flip side, I502 may be the only viable mechanism through which any type of marijuana legalization will occur in Washington, at least until the federal government relents its endless crusade against the all-natural plant. At least for the time being, Washington residents would finally have safe access to marijuana without having to purchase it from criminal drug lords who are potentially lacing it with dangerous substances.
"There's a real disconnect with pot," said Brooke Thompson, a retired teacher from Bainbridge Island, to CBS Seattle about her support for I502. "It's been criminalized and criminals are making money on it. The state could be making money on it, and using the taxes to go into education. It seems like a win-win, and it would be nice for Washington to be the testing ground on this."
I502 designed to cooperate with existing federal prohibition against marijuana
Quelling concerns that I502 will butt heads with federal prohibition on marijuana, the bill's supporters, which include former Seattle U.S. Attorney John McKay, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, travel writer Rick Steves, and various others all affirm that the bill was crafted specifically with federal law in mind. According to I502's campaign manager Alison Holcomb, the bill complements, rather than conflicts with, existing federal law.
"[I502] is a major step in the right direction, and it's crafted well enough to earn my endorsement, and will certainly send the right message to the public, the Congress, and to the world: It's time to end prohibition," Representative Roger Goodman, who is currently running for re-election in Washington's 45th legislative district, is quoted as saying to Seattle Weekly in support of I502.