Why Sensible Washington refiled

March 2, 2011

[Update 3/14: It’s 1149!]

[Update 3/5: The new initiatives have been assigned the numbers 1148 and 1149. We should see the ballot summary language late next week.]

Deputy Solicitor General Jeff Even, assigned last month by the Attorney General’s Office to review I-1135, seems to have been much less generous in his interpretation than his 2010 predecessor. After seeing the juvenile misdemeanor language in the ballot summary, SW Chair and initiative sponsor Douglas Hiatt emailed Even to learn more.

Some explanation of the initiative language is in order. Removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances has the additional effect of “unhooking” the juvenile provisions around marijuana from the code as well. As with I-1068, Section 3 of I-1135 explicitly states that the intent of the initiative is not to change the laws regarding juvenile penalties.

The Deputy Solicitor General argued that a prosecutor would be left without a statutory provision to point to and therefore be unable to charge minors with felony distribution. Even was confident enough in his assertion that he emailed back to say that Sensible Washington could sue if we disagreed. Hiatt feels strongly that a judge would uphold Section 3, but did not want to spend weeks suing over the matter, especially without a guaranteed outcome. Hence, the refiling.

Hiatt submitted two modified versions yesterday:

  • In the first, marijuana is dropped from the list of controlled substances for adults only.
  • In the second, a new Section 6 has been added, specifically retaining marijuana penalties for persons under 18, under RCW 69.50.

The winner between the two will be the one that receives the better ballot summary. As a result, we should be in a much stronger position going into the general election. We still have every confidence in our growing network of volunteers that we have enough time to gather the necessary signatures.

If you would like to support our efforts, please donate to the cause or volunteer.

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