medical marijuana leaf.jpg
Critics of I-502 often lament that many initiative supporters haven't actually read the thing. And no wonder. The complex ballot measure runs to 64 pages.

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I-502 and Medical Marijuana: Sorting Through the Confusion

medical marijuana leaf.jpg
Critics of I-502 often lament that many initiative supporters haven't actually read the thing. And no wonder. The complex ballot measure runs to 64 pages. And even if you read it, you might be confused, particularly around the question of how it would affect medical marijuana.

*See also: Pot Mama

Alison Holcomb, the initiative's campaign director and the subject of this week's cover story, has a short answer: It wouldn't. "This is not a medical marijuana initiative," she'll frequently say. But what does that really mean?

Medical marijuana patients, for instance, are worried that they would be put at risk by the initiative's DUI provision, which would result in an automatic conviction for those found to have 5 or more nanograms of active THC (a chemical found it pot) in their bloodstream. Patients say their daily use would have them over the limit at any given time, although Holcomb contends there's no no science to back that up.

What patients might not realize, though, is that some of the oft-criticized restrictions in the initiative don't apply to them. Take the heavy rate of taxation. For general marijuana sales, there's a tax at every level of production and distribution, adding up to a whopping sin tax of 40 percent. For medical marijuana, however, the only tax levied would be the general sales tax, currently at around 9 percent, according to Holcomb.

Then there's the provision that would make it illegal to sell marijuana within 1,000 feet of schools and other facilities catering to children. The list of facilities is actually quite daunting. Here's the text, with instructions for the state Liquor Control Board, which would be responsible for licensing pot operations:

The state liquor control board shall not issue a license for any premises within one thousand feet of the perimeter of the grounds of any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, or library, or any game arcade admission to which is not restricted to persons aged twenty-one years or older.

Some have wondered whether there's anyplace at all you'll find in Seattle that wouldn't fall into that category. But Holcomb says that provision does not apply to medical marijuana "collective gardens," which is governed by a separate law. Of course, that law--created when Governor Christine Gregoire last year gutted a bill that was intended to legalize dispensaries--is a vague mess.

Even more to the point, the feds showed last month that they will hold medical marijuana facilities to the 1,000 foot rule when they sent out notices to 23 dispensaries (or collective gardens, or access points, or whatever you want to call them) telling them to shut down.

I-502 won't help dispensaries in that situation, but it probably won't hurt them either.

Please find the text of the initiative on the following page.

I-502 text

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