Thoughts On Washington’s I-502: With Friends Like These…


Naked Science Forum

By Mickey Martin
So there is a lot of drama in Washington State right now about I-502, an initiative that will go before the voters in November to legalize up to an ounce and set up a distribution system like statewide liquor stores. I have taken a step back from this battle because I am somewhat torn.
I have allies on both sides of the fence, and the big point of contention is the creation of a five nanogram per milliliter standard for DUI, and a zero tolerance limit for anyone under 21.

Let me start by saying that whoever wrote this DUI provision into an initiative that is supposedly “pro-cannabis” needs to be bitchslapped… and hard. Why our community would put forth such a dumb idea is beyond me. Why we continue to do the drug warriors’ work for them is a question I will never be able to answer.

Cannabis Warrior
Mickey Martin authors the “Cannabis Warrior” blog, where this piece originally appeared

One of the main proponents and people defending the 5-ng limit is Seattle activist Dominic Holden. In a piece in the New York Times entitled “Smokeless in Seattle” (very clever), Holden writes, “I haven’t found a single scientific study showing that even the heaviest of pot users would exceed the five-nanogram [DUI] cutoff after 24 hours.” SO?
The last time I went 24 hours without smoking weed was when I was 13, I think. I am not going to wait 24 hours to drive my car…..that would be ridiculous. I would rather not be miserable than drive if that is the case… and to add the zero tolerance for those under 21 is simply cruel and unusual.
It is hard for me to stomach that people supposedly on our side would think this was a good idea in any way whatsoever.
Their explanation for this is that Prop. 19 was opposed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving because it “failed to provide the Highway Patrol with any tests or objective standards for determining what constitutes “driving under the influence.” Yes… I am sure if Prop. 19 had a 5ng per ml DUI limit Mothers Against Drunk Driving would have surely supported it. I mean, I can see it now….”MADD supports Prop. 19″… are you kidding me? What a funny argument to make.

Legalizing Marijuana

I am sure had Prop. 19 had this provision MADD’s statement would have read that “because there is no scientific evidence stating this is an actual limit of impairment we believe it is bullshit,” or something to that effect. I think using an opposition groups backwards thinking as justification for this provision is somewhat disgusting. I think the claims made that during Prop. 19 “undecided voters had been swayed by MADD’s statements” is disingenuous at best.
Furthermore, I think they lost their mind if they think that these same groups will not come out to oppose I-502, simply because it has an unjust and arbitrary limit placed on it… anyone want to take bets on that?
I think the I-502 DUI provision is utter bullshit. I think not being able to grow a few plants is also bullshit. It is a lot to give up just to keep an ounce on your person (as long as you are not in a car and have smoked in 24 hours).
But to the bottom line… if I lived in Washington State would I vote for it? Probably.
Why? Because to me personally the message is bigger than the details.
If I-502 fails, the headline is not going to read “I-502 was rejected because stoners do not like the DUI provision.” It will read “Washington Rejects Weed.” That is a huge negative for the cannabis community. That message will ring throughout the nation for years to come.
It would be nice to see the headline “Washington Legalizes Weed,” and then amass an army of lawyers to begin challenging the new stupid DUI provision. I would even go a step further and begin a huge legal fund for anyone charged with a DUI under this new draconian bullshit, and let law enforcement know clearly that the best attorneys in the state are ready to take them to task any, and every, time they charge a person under this law.
Put them on notice that they better have their ducks in a row before trying to implement these bullshit standards for impairment. Put any cop who uses this new law on the stand EVERY TIME and make them explain the impairment in detail. Challenge them at every step of the game. Make sure cops know that if they want to use this law against people that they will have a lot of work to do, and that they will be appearing in court.
Cops are lazy. They will begin to realize it is not worth it… at least I would hope.
But I can assure you I would not be out vigorously defending and promoting the initiative like I did for Prop. 19. I just could not bring myself to do it.
I am neutral on the initiative at this point, and would likely stand back and let the democratic process work. I could not in good conscience promote this thing, and I certainly could not sell out all of my morals and values to drink the Kool Aid like Holden has.
Some of his justification is beyond reality and can ONLY be driven by his allegiance to the folks putting this on. He is a paid shill in my opinion; and if he is not then that is even sadder. That is the only explanation I have for a person who has supposedly fought for cannabis freedom for years coming out and stating this was a good idea.
It is disappointing to see someone basically turn the corner and begin using the opposition’s talking points to defend his support of this issue. Do us a favor, Dominic… just state that the 5-ng per ml provision SUCKS ASS, but that you think it should still pass. Quit trying to convince us all that the drug warriors are right and that we must appease groups like MADD if we want to win an election. It is just not true.
A DUI provision, the same as is in place for pharmaceutical drugs, could have been put in… or the limit could have been set higher. There are a number of other solutions that could have been put forth that would have appeased these same groups (if you really believe that is a possibility).
Quit defending the stupid. It is tiring. The DUI provision WILL NOT “help get it passed.” That is just bullshit.
Will I-502 pass? Maybe. Maybe not.
It is sad that there was not a better effort to write a good initiative that would meet the needs of the community, while still assuring people of real public safety. Not some manufactured level of safety… but consistent with what our society already does to combat drug impairment.
While I do hope it passes just for bigger picture reasons, I do think the folks who wrote it should be taken off the old Christmas card list. With friends like that…

Editor’s note: Mickey Martin, the Cannabis Warrior himself, is coauthor of the book Medical Marijuana 101. You can buy it here.