A push to legalize marijuana on the West Coast is picking up steam as Washington lawmakers and pot proponents in California and Oregon propose measures, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Washington legislature will hold a preliminary vote Wednesday on whether to sell pot in state liquor stores, though the bill is unlikely to pass. The same day in California, backers of a well-funded ballot measure to legalize marijuana are expected to file more than enough signatures to put the initiative before voters in November.
In Washington state, one group filed a marijuana-legalization initiative last week to put the issue on the November ballot. Activists in Oregon say they have collected more than half of the signatures they need by July to allow a vote on whether the state should set up a system of medical-marijuana dispensaries. The efforts are part of a marijuana-legalization movement that has been emboldened by several factors, including laws allowing marijuana for medical purposes. The recession may be another reason. With many states suffering big budget deficits, advocates say the states could benefit from new taxes on the sale of marijuana.