Earlier this week Nina Shapiro took to The Daily Weekly to write about former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper's regrets about I-502. Specifically, Stamper - who has been a vocal supporter of the marijuana legalization initiative - wonders whether the restrictive DUID element of I-502 was necessary, given the margin by which it passed.
A month after the election, however, Stamper tells SW that he's had a revelation.
"I now question whether Washington state's initiative needed to be as restrictive as it is," Stamper says.
One of the restrictions he's referring to is the initiative's dui provision, which establishes a so-called "per-se" standard that would result in a conviction for anyone found to have 5 nanograms of active THC (a compound found in marijuana). This provision was the subject of fierce controversy during the campaign, with some activists arguing that pot affects people differently, so it doesn't make sense to set one standard for impairment. Medical marijuana activists also insisted that the provision would essentially render them unable to drive because of all the THC in their bloodstream from regular use.
Stamper agrees, citing one medical marijuana activist who spoke at a 502 debate during Hempfest. The activist, Kari Boiter, said she had herself tested and found she was over the 5 nanogram limit.
To no surprise, the post inspired feedback from Daily Weekly commenters on both sides of the issue, including a message from commenter radicalruss.
Commenter radicalruss writes:
Actually, the legislature can fix the DUID issue with a 2/3rds vote within the next two years, majority vote after that.
It's also too easy to play 20/20 hindsight and say I-502 woulda passed if... Colorado and Washington are two different political animals with respect to marijuana. Colorado had the benefit of an eight-year public education campaign (SAFER), a previous failed statewide legalization initiative (2006), a successful Denver legalization initiative, other cities like Breckenridge that have essentially legalized, and the most well-regulated medical marijuana system in the nation.
Washington's only statewide experience with legalization are the pot aficionados who propose each year to just remove all marijuana laws and trust the legislature to work it out, The same ones who throw buckets of marijuana joints at crowds of teenagers each August at Hempfest. So the political landscape is quite different.
Without per se DUID, Washington doesn't get support for I-502 from John McKay and Charlie Mandigo. How many voters did those commercials sway? Without it, who knows if opponents might have drummed up more anti-commercials warning of stoned mayhem on the freeways?