I have been going over some of my older writing when I found a stash of articles debunking the scare tactics of the No on I-502 campaign in Washington State. Recall that most of these opponents were pot smokers themselves and many of them beneficiaries of the medical marijuana status quo who were using dispensary proceeds to campaign against legalization. Here are ten of the fearmongering predictions that failed to materialize:
1) You'd better hope some redneck cop with an attitude about stoners doesn't pull you over on the way home. Or worse yet, sit there waiting to shoot hippie fish in a barrel as they leave Hempfest, just pulling 'em over as they leave...
As a matter of fact, King County Sheriffs did mount an enhanced DUI patrol for the Seattle Hempfest, beginning on August 16 and running through September 2. They ended up stopping and arresting 292 people for drug and alcohol DUI. The prior year over the same time period, before I-502 passed with its 5ng/mL DUID law, cops nabbed 374 people. Looks like the hippie fish are swimming quite well or the sheriffs are lousy shots.
2) ...as far as carrying around an ounce of marijuana and not being concerned with arrest? Unless you bought that ounce at a state-licensed store, you'd still get busted.
Nobody in the State of Washington has been arrested for holding less than an ounce of marijuana, even though no state-licensed stores exist yet.
3) If you took Emery at his word and happily passed what you believed to be that gloriously legal joint to your buddy --- after all, Marc Emery said it was OK! --- then you'd get your ass busted for "distribution."
As far as I am aware, nobody in Washington has been busted for joint-passing distribution. I saw thousands of such distribution crimes happening in the open in full view of police at Hempfest. It may have happened somewhere, but that distribution law existed before I-502.
4) If that bag in your pocket contained a crumb over 40 grams --- not that unusual for some of us --- you could be busted for felony possession.
Since 40 grams was a felony before I-502, that seems irrelevant. What isn't irrelevant is that I-502 forced cops to re-train their drug dogs to not alert for marijuana, since it is no longer contraband, which has doubtlessly benefited people holding over 40 grams.
5) God help you if you accidentally pass the joint to a minor, by the way...
It seems strange that proponents of what they call "true legalization" were defending giving joints to kids; however this, too, seems not to have materialized in any manner greater than it existed before I-502. I'm sure there were plenty of intermingling 14-to-25-year-olds at Hempfest, but I didn't see any arrests.
6) It would take away the rights of individuals to cultivate their own medicine.
Every patient who was cultivating marijuana as medicine before I-502 is still doing so after. Recreational consumers can't grow their own, but they couldn't before I-502, either.
7) The Feds have made it clear they will intervene if states enact legalization measures. Do we really need more raids and negative attention for cannabis?
The Feds have just recently made it clear that they will not interfere in state legalization measures and it appears that non-interference may carry over to medical marijuana. The Feds are working to undercut mandatory minimum sentencing and anti-drug banking regulations to help the marijuana industry. They only made these moves because of states enacting legalization measures.
8) [I-502] Will increase the cost of medicine by 50 percent to 75 percent.
Washington State still has some of the lowest prices for an ounce of quality marijuana in the United States. Estimates of the recreational costs of marijuana exceeding $17 per gram once pot shops in 2014 got a lot of media coverage, but few people actually read the report. That $17 per gram estimate is based on both the processor and the retailer taking a 100 percent (double your money) mark-up. When BOTEC, the firm making the estimates, used the average 31 percent markup found in a liquor store, they came up with an estimated $7.46 per gram, putting the price of an ounce around $210 - about what it costs on the recreational black market in Washington now.
9) I-502 maintains current criminal penalties for adults under 21 while imposing a new zero tolerance DUI law.
Right, people under 21 couldn't use marijuana before I-502. As for the zero tolerance DUI law under 21, how did all those under-21 tokers manage to drive away from Seattle Hempfest and escape the enhanced DUI patrols, since 82 fewer people were arrested for DUI as we mentioned in point #1?
10) When people understand how states cannot create laws that conflict with federal laws, they will realize that all Washington state will be left with if I-502 passes is the DUIC and the right to possess 1 ounce of Cannabis, 16 ounces of food products or 72 ounces of infused liquids.
"Gosh, is that all?" said recreational cannabis users in 48 other states. Just the legal right to possess cannabis and a per se DUID statute better than eleven other states'? As the feds, faced with a state conflict to federal laws, are helping to enable those laws to function? As fewer people are being arrested for DUID? And as we await next year's FBI Uniform Crime report to learn how so many fewer Washingtonians got arrested for marijuana possession? Gee, what a terrible outcome we've all suffered from not heeding the predictions of No on I-502.