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Washington marijuana supporters submit thousands of petition signatures

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December 30, 2011

By Bailey Ludlam

I-502 supporters submit petitions for Washington's 2012 ballot.
Photo credit: Washington Secretary of State's office

OLYMPIA, Washington: The year hasn't ended just yet. Some initiative campaigns are beginning the process of collecting signatures to qualify for 2012 ballots, while others are ending their petition circulation. In Washington State, one group of initiative supporters filed thousands of signatures on December 29 and, according to Washington Secretary of State's office, may file additional signatures on December 30.

Initiative 502, an Initiative to the Legislature, 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.[1][2]

Additionally, the measure would make it illegal for a motorist to have more than 5 nanograms of THC (an active ingredient of marijuana) per milliliter of blood in their system.[3]

New Approach Washington, the main group in support of the measure, filed an estimated 341,000 petition signatures with the Washington Secretary of State's office. However, supporters plan to submit an additional 10,000 signatures by December 30th. The signature verification process is scheduled to begin January 9, 2012 and is expected to take a few days.[4]

A minimum of 241,153 valid signatures are required to submit the proposal to the state legislature for consideration. The Washington Elections Division recommends at least 320,000 signatures in order to account for duplicate or invalid signatures. If the initiative meets the minimum requirements, then the proposal will be submitted to the Washington State Legislature for consideration.

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.

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