Supporters of an effort to legalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana in Washington state plan to turn in signatures this week to qualify for next year’s ballot, the Associated Press reports. Initiative 502 would create a system of state-licensed growers, processors and stores, and impose a 25 percent excise tax at each stage. “This is an issue whose time has come, both here in Washington and nationwide,” said Alison Holcomb of New Approach Washington.
The state legislature must take action during the 60-day session that begins Jan. 9 or the measure will automatically go onto the November ballot. The initiative has several high-profile sponsors, including former Seattle U.S. Attorney John McKay. A spokeswoman for Gov. Chris Gregoire said that she has concerns about the legalization initiative because of the conflict with the federal government, which still says the drug is illegal. “Even if this were to pass, we’d still have to deal with federal law,” said spokeswoman Karina Shagren. Opposing I-502, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs cited concerns about increased use among young people, increased cases of drugged driving, and conflict with federal law.