I-502 Opponents Decry ‘Legalization’ Misinformation Campaign


Northwest Leaf

No On I-502 says that New Approach Washington is using a McCarthy-style campaign, employing their considerable financial resources, complicit members of the media and influential local political connections to misinform the public regarding the specific issues surrounding the group’s opposition to I-502, a marijuana “legalization” initiative on the November general election ballot.

The “No On I-502” Committee has announced a Wednesday press conference “to clarify, once and for all, our opposition to I-502 and to debunk the propaganda from NAW, and some in the press, that we represent some mysterious, greedy group of marijuana business interests that they’ve failed to specifically identify.”

Speakers at the press conference will include top marijuana attorneys Jeffrey Steinborn, Aaron Pelley and Douglas Hiatt, who will address the facts surrounding both legalization issues and the “per se” DUID provisions of I-502, including the dramatic impact this law will have on tens of thousands of voters in Washington state.

“This law will have tragic effects, especially for young people, the poor, and young men of color who are the traditional targets of law enforcement profiling,” said Steinborn. “The patients are protesting because they know that they’ll also be targeted under this initiative.”

Steve Sarich
Steve Sarich, No On I-502: “Our opposition to the initiative is primarily focused on the DUID provision of the bill that will criminalize thousands of Washington State medical cannabis patients and young people that are not, by any standard, impaired”

“Our opposition to the initiative is primarily focused on the DUID provision of the bill that will criminalize thousands of Washington State medical cannabis patients and young people that are not, by any standard, impaired,” said Steve Sarich, spokesman for the campaign against I-502. “Even I-502 supporters have admitted that the scientific evidence does not support this arbitrary limit and the only reason that this was added was for political, and not public safety, reasons.”
Even former U.S. Attorney and current I-502 sponsor John McKay admitted, when questioned, “I-502 is not going to move forward, in my view, with the kind of support it’s getting without a provision on driving while impaired and I think that the science is going to have to catch up.”
But according to the patient community, it’s a really bad idea to start criminalizing driving by people who could prove — minus the arbitrary five nanogram per milliliter blood THC cutoff point mandated by 502 — that they were, in fact, unimpaired.
“It’s critical to have definitive science on whether or not impairment can be proven by a specific THC blood level before we start locking people up in this state,” said I-502 treasurer Poppy Sidhu. “Mr. McKay wants to pass this law, for ‘political reasons,’ and then hope that some future scientific study proves that he wasn’t wrong and that innocent people weren’t unjustly convicted.
“That’s not the way our legal system should work in America,” Sidhu said.

The Tacoma News Tribune on September 5 published an editorial with the headline “So where is the campaign against legalizing marijuana?” Author Patrick O’Callahan complained, “As far as I can tell, there’s little credible opposition to initiative I-502. (I’m not counting the ‘medical marijuana’ people — who have a mercenary stake in its defeat — as credible.)”
O’Callahan then opined that he could not find any “coherent statewide campaign against I-502” to participate in a scheduled TVW debate sponsored by the newspaper.

No On I-502

“The staff at the Tacoma News Tribune apparently didn’t try using Google, since our organization appears on the first screen of a search for ‘No I-502,’ ” said Sarich. “Perhaps they simply decided for themselves that we should not be included in this debate over I-502.”
Again, on September 6, the League of Women Voters, along with the King County Bar Association, cosponsored a forum on “legalization and drug policy.” This forum, instead of featuring drug policy generally, was almost exclusively concerned with I-502 and included two prominent I-502 sponsors, John McKay and Dr. Kim Thornburn, but only had Commander Pat Slack of the Snohomish County Drug Task Force to argue against the initiative.
Despite having contact the League of Women Voters before the event and requesting to be included, the official “No On I-502” Committee was not allowed to participate in the forum.
During this forum on “legalization and drug policy,” any questions from the audience regarding the DUID (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs) issues were intentionally screened out, either by the League of Women Voters staff, or by the moderator, Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times, whose newspaper has publicly endorsed I-502.
When there finally was a question asked from the audience regarding the DUID provisions of the bill, the forum was abruptly terminated by the League of Women Voters staff running the event.
“It was very clear to everyone there that both the LWV and NAW were determined to prevent to DUID issue from being raised at the forum,” Sidhu said.
The Tacoma News Tribune on September 9 published yet another editorial attacking the medical marijuana community, claiming that it’s the “medical marijuana monopoly” in partnership with the “quack” doctors who are funding the opposition to I-502.
“The real agenda here is not about nanograms — it’s about money,” the paper claimed. “It’s about the loss of monopoly.”

“No On I-502” Press Conference
Wednesday, September 12, 2 p.m.
2901 1st Ave. South, Seattle, WA