Legalized Marijuana Petition Harshed By Union, ACLU

This is not an excuse to make a lame pot joke. It might be easy to point and laugh at the "stoners" at Sensible Washington who are pushing I-1068 -- the initiative that would make marijuana use and possession legal -- because they might not get enough John Hancocks to make the November ballot. But getting 100,000 signatures with an all-volunteer staff is decidedly un-slackerly.

No, for this potential shortfall much of the blame must be laid at the quickly retreating feet of two major progressive groups.

The Sensible Washington campaign found out yesterday from a reporter that it wouldn't be getting money from the influential Service Employees International Union. Around the same time it discovered it also also wouldn't be getting support from the "arm-chair liberals" (their words, not mine) at the ACLU.

"It was fucking tacky after they danced with us for months," campaign coordinator and former Weekly staffer Philip Dawdy told the P-I.

Dawdy's anger is understandable. Most initiatives subsidize volunteer signature-gatherers with hired help. (Or, if you're Tim Eyman, you do that in reverse.) Sensible Washington had spent months working to prove its message had political traction only to be rejected a few weeks, and a couple hundred thousand signatures short, of the deadline.

Both progressive groups seemed to be put off by I-1068's lack of interest in creating a regulatory structure in the hypothetical aftermath of legalization. But that's a disingenuous argument considering it's the lawmaker's, not the people's, duty to enforce some kind of scheme.

As Sensible Washington co-founder Douglas Hiatt told Daily Weekly in a January interview, "Under our bill we remove the criminal penalties - that's the best we can do as citizens...this forces the legislature to do regulation that everybody's talking about."

More likely, the SEIU and ACLU were scared off by the potential fallout of being tied to a campaign that had such a clear, unambiguous goal. Or, as Sensible Washington put it, they were nervous about coming out in support of a "fringe issue." Who are the slackers now?

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