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Washington marijuana initiative certified, heads to legislature first

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January 30, 2012

By Bailey Ludlam

I-502 petitions certified. Initiative heads to Washington State Legislature next.
Photo credit: Washington Secretary of State's office

OLYMPIA, Washington: It's official. Initiative 502 has collected sufficient initiative petitions. However, unlike most initiatives that head directly to the ballot following verification, this Initiative to the Legislature will first head to the Washington State Legislature for consideration.[1]

Once submitted, the Legislature must take one of the following three actions:

  • The Legislature can adopt the initiative as proposed, in which case it becomes law without a vote of the people;
  • The Legislature can reject or refuse to act on the proposed initiative, in which case the initiative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election; or
  • The Legislature can approve an alternative to the proposed initiative, in which case both the original proposal and the Legislature's alternative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election.

Initiative 502 would legalize the production, possession, delivery and distribution of marijuana. The initiative would regulate the sale of small amounts of marijuana to people 21 and older. According to reports, marijuana grow farms and food processors would be licensed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board.[2][3]

Supporters submitted an estimated 354,608 petition signatures to the Washington Secretary of State's office. On January 27 the Washington Secretary of State's office concluded, using the random sample method, that sponsors had nearly 278,000 valid signatures. Rejected petitions were thrown out either because names were not found in the registered voter database, a signature was missing or did not match the one on file, or the petition was a duplicate. The error rate was 21.73 percent. According to state officials, the average error rate is 18 percent.[4]

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