Sunday, July 23, 2017 This Week's Paper

Voters approve legalizing marijuana

Washington voters have approved legalizing marijuana, a bold move that goes against federal drug law. On a statewide level, Initiative 502 has 55 percent approval. It received 96,749 votes in support, or 53.6 percent, in Pierce County. As of Dec. 6, adults 21 and older will be able to legally possess an ounce of marijuana. The law also contains a provision for how much a user can consume before being legally considered too impaired to drive a vehicle. However, many legal experts expect the U.S. Justice Department to take action to block implementation of the new law. Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) will have a year to establish rules for taxed and regulated sales at state-licensed stores. The agency issued the following statement after passage of the initiative: “I-502 establishes precedent for growing, processing, retailing and possessing marijuana. Essentially, a system will be built from the ground up. The initiative provides the WSLCB until December 1, 2013 to craft rules for implementation. We expect that it will take the full year to craft the necessary rules, which will provide the framework for the new system. As we develop the rules we will keep in mind our top priority, public safety. “Questions remain ahead as we work to implement I-502. Chief among them is the issue that marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

“We will reach out to the federal Department of Justice in the coming weeks for clarification. We will also communicate with our state partners such as the Washington State Patrol, the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture, and others affected by I-502.” A fact sheet about I-502 and how it affects WSLCB can be found at In other parts of the country, Colorado's" Amendment 64 passed with just over 54 percent of the vote. The new law states: "the use of marijuana should be legal for persons twenty-one years of age or older and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol." The measure allows adults to buy and possess up to one ounce of the drug, and to grow up to six marijuana plants. In Oregon, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act failed to pass.