As the Daily Weekly noted in late March, Sensible Washington - a "group of citizens working to end adult cannabis (marijuana) prohibition for responsible adult use in Washington State," according to its website - recently announced plans to file lowest-priority pot prosecution initiatives in six Washington cities with hopes of placing them on general election ballots come November.
Seattle and Tacoma have already passed similar laws, with Seattle's version - known as Initiative 75 - passed in 2003, and Tacoma's passed in 2011.
Earlier this week Sensible Washington announced that the signature-gathering process to get initiatives on general election ballots in these six new cities has officially kicked off. While Olympia, Spokane, Bellingham, Everett, Kent and Bremerton all have slightly different rules for getting initiatives on the ballot - in terms of valid signatures needed and cut-off dates - Sensible Washington Steering Committee Member and Communications Co-Director Anthony Martinelli says the organization is confident they'll have success in each place.
But how were these six cities - all of them with a different makeup and characteristics - chosen as the next frontiers in the fight for the reform of current pot policies?
Martinelli says the cities were chosen by Sensible Washington's steering committee - roughly a dozen people - based on different variables, including Sensible Washington's existing volunteer bases in the areas, how many people would potentially be impacted, and the possible political ramifications of passing lowest-priority pot laws.
"Spokane is one of the bigger cities in this state, people-wise, so [a lowest-priority pot law] can affect a larger number of people," explains Martinelli. "Olympia, for example, is the state capitol, so we see a lot to be had from showing the rest of the state that the capitol supports reforming our cannabis laws."
Martinelli also says cities like Kent and Bellingham, which have each recently dealt with raids of medical marijuana access points, were selected as a "direct responses essentially to local enforcement being out of touch with the citizens."
While the first goal, of course, is getting initiatives on the ballot in these six cities, Martinelli says the purpose of all this is to get the initiatives passed - a task Sensible Washington doesn't underestimate, but is ultimately confident in its ability to do.
"Getting it on the ballot is definitely a victory, and it's going to show that there's support within the community ... but the actual message is going to come from getting these passed and getting these passed very clearly," says Martinelli. "We're looking to have clear victories in these cities, similar to Tacoma, and we feel a lot of these cities are absolutely ready for it."
Martinelli also says Sensible Washington's lowest-priority pot initiative drive in 2012 likely won't be limited to the six cities already declared, with the announcement of "at least a couple more cities," expected in the "coming days and weeks."
"We feel like we can get at least 50-percent [of the vote] in pretty much any city in the state," says Martinelli.