Initiative 502 (Washington 502)Posted 20 October 2012 by Bob Chapman
I strongly support the idea behind this initiative. The so-called War on Drugs is not working. Instead, it is harming people—and some classes and races of people more than other people are hurt.
However, if you can do the right thing for the wrong reason you create even bigger problems.
Even if every sanction against marijuana usage in Washington State were to disappear, the possession and use of marijuana is still against federal law. A state cannot nullify a federal law. The thought of Washington State trying something segregationists and secessionists tried to use throughout United States history does not put us in good company. What I fear most is that Washington State could be successful in this nullification effort. Success will open the floodgates of unintended consequences for state legislation restricting civil rights.
I wish this initiative had been written differently. A clause stating that this law cannot take effect until federal law permits marijuana use would solve the problem. Then, the people could vote “yes,” deliver the message to Congress, and avoid attempted nullification. This problem only reinforces my desire for us to be more like a republic, and less like a direct democracy.
Another interesting point is a comparison to making marijuana as legal as alcohol through Initiative 502. However, the Revised Code of Washington does not limit me to only an ounce (or other small quantity) of alcohol. The Revised Code of Washington does not limit my alcohol usage to non-public locations.
The only way Initiative 502 would even begin to legalize marijuana to be the same as alcohol is if the people gathered outside the doors at bars smoking (because Washington law prohibits indoor smoking in a bar) can smoke marijuana and alcohol.
Please try again.