Citizens in Washington State are soon to vote on Initiative 502, which would legalize, regulate and tax the sale and use of marijuana. Now the measure is meeting opposition from some pro-legalization groups, who say that the measure is unfair to drivers who have prescriptions for marijuana.
This is because the law includes a THC blood level maximum — 5 nanograms per milliliter — which could result in a charge of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID). And Oregonians who cross the border would be at risk.
More than 54,000 Oregonians are medical marijuana patients and it’s not known how many are included in the approximately 275,000 Oregonians who cross into Washington every day.
Proponents of the law argue that the arresting officer has to have evidence of impaired driving before doing any testing, and point out that other states who have legalized marijuana have instituted even lower THC limits.
The Board of Directors of NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) has issued a statement calling the THC limits in the law unscientific and unhelpful, but concludes that “the overall impact of this proposal, if approved by voters this fall and enacted, will be overwhelmingly helpful to the vast majority of cannabis consumers in the state, and will eliminate tens of thousands of cannabis arrests each year. Thus, NORML’s Board of Directors voted unanimously… to endorse the initiative.”
Other endorsers include The ACLU of Washington, the Washington chapter of the National Organization for Women, the Seattle Times Editorial Board, Washington State Democrats, and Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn.
But Washington Governor Christine Gregoire opposes the measure. She cites concerns about conflicts with federal law, as well as the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, which claim the measure would lead to more traffic fatalities and more organized crime.
A March 2012 analysis by the state Office of Financial Management estimated five-year revenues from the initiative at approximately $1.9 billion, which does not include estimated law-enforcement savings of over $20 million per year.