On November 6th, 2012 Washington State passed Initiative 502, allowing the recreational use of cannabis for those over the age of 21. Along with Colorado’s Amendment 64, also passed on ballot day, I-502 was an electoral first for the United States, encouraging an unprecedented voter turnout of 81%.
Like any system shake up, it came with it’s challenges. But it wasn’t just staunch opponents protesting I-502. Under Provision 5, DUI Limits were put into effect on December 9, 2012 much to the upset of the medicinal cannabis community. But Washington wasn’t done yet. On April 20th 2017, Senate Bill 5131 was passed allowing medical marijuana card-holders to buy seeds and clones from producers. And consumers were finally allowed to share and gift legally.
For health and drug initiatives, government pockets, and the consumer, I-502 has proven fruitful for all. From 2016 to 2017 legal cannabis sales nearly doubled to 1.3billion dollars, with tax revenues $113m greater than that of alcohol. In comparison, cigarette revenues were a meagre $1million.
“Federal law makes the possession of any amount of marijuana a crime, so, even if you’ve got a certificate from your doctor, a federal officer could arrest you. … That’s just bad policy. [Marijuana law] should look a lot more like alcohol (regulations) and a lot less like cocaine and methamphetamine (laws).”
Former US Attorney, Western District Of Washington - John McKay