By Troy Barber
If I-502 — on the November general election ballot — passes, national headlines will read “Washington State Legalizes Marijuana!” This is what national marijuana law reform groups have been dreaming of for more than 40 years. The practical application of the law, however, will be something very different, the end results could yield some very negative impacts, and all the headlines would be for naught.
I-502 is not legalization; it is decriminalization. The language creates a narrow exception for the right to possess limited amounts of marijuana or cannabis-infused foods and beverages. The tax-and-regulate portions conflict with federal law and are likely to be preempted. This will leave no legal production or retail sale of product for consumers, leaving illegal markets to fill new demand.