Marijuana legalization makes Wash. state ballot

Baptist Press
Posted: Jan 30, 2012 5:22 PM
OLYMPIA, Wash. (BP) -- Washington state could become the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana under an initiative that has qualified for the November ballot.

The pro-pot organization New Approach Washington submitted nearly 278,000 valid signatures in order to qualify a proposal that would legalize the usage of marijuana by those ages 21 and over, Reuters reported. Marijuana would be sold at specific stores, and no one under the age of 21 would be allowed to enter the store. Marijuana would be prohibited from being consumed in public and sales would be taxed.

California voters rejected a similar proposal in 2010, 54-46 percent. Although several states allow medicinal marijuana, no state has legalized marijuana's recreational use.

"This is the grown-up approach to regulating a relatively harmless drug," Seattle city attorney Peter Holmes told Reuters.

But opponents say legalizing the recreational usage of marijuana would lead to an increase in drugged drivers and road deaths, an uptick in marijuana's usage among teens and young adults, and an increase in crime statewide. They also say the black market for marijuana would not disappear, as some supporters contend.

"There will always be a black market. That's been proven with cigarettes with the tobacco industry," Calvina Fay, head of the Drug Free America Foundation, told Reuters. "Even though tobacco is legal and it's regulated, there's still a huge global black market."

The initiative will be known as I-502. Voters in the state also could have another controversial issue on the ballot -- gay "marriage" -- if the legislature passes a bill redefining marriage and conservatives gather enough signatures to give voters a say.

Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.

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