Big Donors Give Boost To Washington Marijuana Legalization Initiative


By Gene Johnson

washington medical marijuana

A campaign to legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use in Washington state is getting a big cash boost with two months left to collect signatures.

New Approach Washington said Tuesday it received $100,000 from Harriet Bullitt, a philanthropist and environmentalist from one of the state's most prominent families.

And by the end of next week it expects to have $200,000 more from Progressive Insurance Chairman and Peter Lewis, who already has given $50,000 to date.

peter b lewis marijuana

Peter Lewis

"In financial terms, it means we'll have what we need," campaign director Alison Holcomb told The Associated Press.

Initiative 502, would legalize up to an ounce of dried marijuana; 1 pound of marijuana-infused product in solid form, such as brownies; or 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquids. People over 21 would be able to buy marijuana at state-licensed stores.

The campaign must collect 241,000 valid signatures by the end of this year to send the initiative to the Legislature, which can pass it outright or allow it to go to a public vote on the November 2012 ballot.

About New Approach Washington

New Approach Washington is a coalition of Washington citizens who believe that treating marijuana use as a crime has failed, and that it is time for a new approach. We include doctors, lawyers, treatment and prevention experts, business people, and parents. We are united in the belief that Washington should stop wasting law enforcement resources on adults who use marijuana, and instead create a tightly regulated system that generates tax revenue for our state and local governments.

Initiative Measure No. 502 (I-502) is an initiative to the legislature. New Approach Washington must submit 241,153 valid petition signatures to the Secretary of State by December 30, 2011. I-502 will then be referred to the legislature for consideration during the 2012 session, which begins January 9. If the legislature fails to pass the measure, I-502 will go onto the November 2012 general election ballot.

Key Features of Initiative Measure No. 502

Initiative Measure No. 502 will replace Washington’s ineffective and unjust marijuana laws with a regulated public health approach that will redirect law enforcement resources to more pressing priorities, generate new tax revenues for critical social services, and take marijuana out of the hands of violent drug cartels.

  • Distribution to adults 21 and over through marijuana-only stores that are licensed and regulated through the state Liquor Control Board
  • Production and processing of marijuana also licensed and regulated by the LCB, and restricted to Washington businesses
  • Tight advertising restrictions
  • Estimated $215 million in new excise, B&O, and retail sales tax each year1, with roughly $80 million going to state general fund and $135 million earmarked: Evidence-based prevention strategies targeting youth, chosen in consultation with UW Social Development Research Group2 Dedicated funding stream for Healthy Youth Survey3 Washington's Building Bridges program for at-risk youth4 Science-based public education materials regarding health risks of marijuana use hosted by UW Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute5 Research by UW and WSU into the short- and long-term effects of marijuana use, including driving impairment Dedicated marijuana Quitline analogous to tobacco Quitline operated by state Department of Health6 Additional marijuana-related public health educational programs administered by Department of Health at the state and local level Biennial evaluation of impacts of law by Washington State Institute for Public Policy7 Washington's Basic Health Plan Community health centers
  • New marijuana DUI threshold of 5 ng/mL THC blood concentration8

Download this overview as a factsheet.

Download the ballot title and summary.

Download the complete text of the initiative.

Portions Of This Article From The Associated Press