What Legal Pot in Washington Will Look Like

Washington’s
marijuana legalization initiative
, which takes effect on
December 6, is broadly similar to
Colorado’s
: Both initiatives eliminate penalties for possession
of up to an ounce by adults 21 or older, and both call for
state-licensed pot shops, in Washington’s case to be regulated by
the state liquor control board, which is supposed to adopt
regulations by December 2013 and start issuing licenses in 2014.
But Washington’s Intitiative 502 is considerably more restrictive
and prescriptive than Colorado’s Amendment 64. Here are some of the
significant differences:

Home cultivation. Unlike Amendment 64,
I-502, does not allow people to grow their own pot. Alison Holcomb,
director of the Yes on I-502 campaign, says pre-drafting research
indicated that voters were not receptive to home cultivation. Since
“marijuana isn’t quite yet out of the black market, and won’t come
out of the black market, even under I-502, until other states make
it a legal product and the federal prohibition goes away,” she
says, “there is still concern among parents, families living in
neighborhoods, saying ‘I’m not quite ready for my next-door
neighbor to start growing marijuana in their basement.'”

DUI standards. I-502 establishes a per se
standard for driving under the influence of marijuana: five
nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Amendment 64 does not
address the issue, except to say that “driving under the influence
of marijuana will remain illegal.” Under current Washington law
(which is similar to Colorado’s), Holcomb says, an arrest requires
evidence of impairment, and a conviction requires evidence of
consumption, but neither is tied to a particular THC level. The
more specific standard can help or hurt defendants, depending on
the situation. Pro-legalization critics of I-502 worry that regular
consumers, such as patients who use marijuana for symptom relief
every day, may hit the five-nanogram limit even when their driving
ability is not impaired. Holcomb emphasizes that blood cannot be
drawn for a test without reasonable suspicion that a driver is
impaired, and she argues that jurors “might be skeptical that the
person was actually impaired [if] the results were not at thatYou can read the rest of this article at: http://reason.com/blog/2012/11/09/what-legal-pot-in-washington-will-look-l