The Washington State Democratic Central Committee has officially endorsed Initiative 502, which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in the state for adults 21 years of age and older. You can read the endorsement here.

I-502 is a production of the New Approach Washington (NAW) campaign, which is working to get the measure on the ballot in 2012.

Receiving the endorsement of the state Democratic party is a huge achievement for the New Approach Washington campaign specifically, and a big step forward for the marijuana reform movement in general.

In Washington, having the endorsement of one of the two major parties in the state is a powerful signal to many voters that this issue is fully mainstream and deserves serious consideration. The endorsement should be a very helpful talking point for the NAW campaign when they are trying to win over undecided Democrats on the issue. It should also make it politically easier for elected Democrats in the state to feel comfortable endorsing the measure.

On a national level, having the Washington Democratic Party willing to endorse a legitimate marijuana legalization attempt should make the major parties in other states more willing to endorse the issue. Simply following another state is always an easier political lift than being out front.

Washington State, with its well run campaign, favorable demographics, and expected high youth turnout in the Presidential election, stands a very good chance of being the first state to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.