Internal Debates Arise on Both Sides of Marijuana Measure in Washington State

Disagreements have arisen on both sides of the debate about a measure that would legalize recreational use of marijuana in Washington state, The New York Times reports. The divisions are making it difficult to predict the outcome.

The measure, called Initiative 502, will be on the November 6 ballot. It would legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. A poll conducted last month indicated that half of voters say they definitely or probably were in favor of legalizing the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, the newspaper notes.

Some of the fiercest critics of the measure are medical marijuana users, who are concerned with the drugged driving provision of the initiative. They say the new legal standard of impairment the law would create is a risk for regular marijuana users, because THC—the main psychoactive ingredient—can stay in the bloodstream for days, and would be detected by a blood test whether or not they are impaired.

Some former law enforcement officials have endorsed the measure, pointing to the drugged driving provision, as well as promised funding for drug and alcohol treatment programs that would come from taxes on legalized marijuana.

There is no agreement about the provision among officials at drug treatment centers, the article notes. While these centers might benefit from additional funding from taxes, the officials say there is likely to be an increase in drug abuse because marijuana would be more available.

Last week, an advocacy group released a study that showed over the past 25 years, an estimated 240,000 people in Washington state have been arrested for marijuana possession. The Marijuana Arrest Research Project is based on data from the FBI. It is a grant-funded group that researches marijuana arrest data for organizations that advocate drug policy reform.

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    October 17, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    If you want to smoke marijuana, don’t drive a car. Even a prescriptions drugs that may impairs your abilities have the warnings.

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    John Novak

    October 15, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    Unfortunately, of those arrests, over 40% are on people under 21. Those arrests will not be stopped under I-502. Also, considering that over 90% of possession arrests come from vehicles being pulled over, those possession charges will be turned into DUIs.

    I-502 is a voter mandate for cops to bust kids and drivers just so a few adults can smoke their “legal” ounce alone. Why alone? Because even passing a joint from your “legal” ounce is still considered FELONY DISTRIBUTION.

    Remove it from the COntrolled Substsances list and then regulate it for food, medicine, industry, social and religious uses, etc.

    Until then, we are still maintaining a criminal approach that will result in people getting arrested, even for growing a single plant!

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