Why Wait for the Legislature? New Initiative Seeks to Put Weed Legalization on the Ballot

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Five local activists say it's about damn time.
Last week we ran a cover story profiling marijuana's steady creep toward legalization nationwide. ("Weed Takes Root") And just like some spliffed-out Nostradamus, today it appears that our prophecy may be one step closer to reality here in Washington.

Doug Hiatt, a lawyer who represents medical-marijuana patients, and four others known collectively as Sensible Washington filed a ballot initiative yesterday that would legalize all adult marijuana possession, manufacture and sales in the state. Under Hiatt's initiative juvenile possession and distribution to juveniles would still be illegal, as would driving whilst hotboxed.

But everything else? Kosher.

Hiatt has long been the point person for frustrated journos and lay folk trying to get a grasp on Seattle's byzantine rules governing pot. He says he was inspired to file the initiative by a county prosecutor who'd long heard him bitch about the law and dared him to do something about it.

Now the only thing standing between him and decriminalization is the Sisyphean task of collecting more than 241,000 signatures to earn a place on November's ballot. Then getting people to vote for it.

Hiatt's initiative joins another similar measure proposed by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson. The state House member who says she will soon be introducing a bill calling for marijuana to be legalized, then sold, and taxed, in state liquor stores.

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