Posted November 15, 2012 by Cooper Point Journal in News

So, Can I Smoke Yet?

At this point, you are probably wondering what exactly marijuana legalization in Washington means for the state. As it turns out, no one is entirely sure, although it will certainly not be cropping up wild at Evergreen any time soon. With a 55 % to 45% margin, Washingtonians voted to let adults over the age of 21, possess up to an ounce of marijuana which can be smoked privately. Initiative 502 gives the State Liquor Control Board the power to give out licenses for growing, processing, and selling marijuana.

Greatest support came from the Puget Sound, where 63% of King County voted in favor.

The initiative also distinguishes between weed as a drug and useful materials derived from hemp seeds and stalk.

Many details still need to be ironed out, particularly since all forms of marijuana are still prohibited under federal law. It is unclear how the marijuana industry will be able to function if it is still federally illegal. For instance, banks could get in trouble if they lend money to a marijuana dispensary.

Tax revenue from the initiative will go to public health services, the state general fund, drug abuse programs, and research at the University of Washington. The state expects revenue from fees for licensing and taxes on the marijuana industry. There will be a 25% excise tax on pot, and licenses will cost a thousand dollars annually.

Initiative 502 also directs law enforcement to focus their resources on violent and property crimes, as well as DUI prevention. Many marijuana reform advocates are skeptical of the changes to DUI rules in the initiative because they say the legal limit for THC in a driver’s system is too low.

Similar changes were proposed in other states, including Oregon, but only those in Washington and Colorado came out on top. There is no telling how soon it will be before tokers from around the country pilgrimage to our state to enjoy their first legal smoke.

 By Issac Scott