voting, initiative

Possible marijuana initiative for Washington State ballot (photo: Joe Hall)

A ballot initiative in Washington State to legalize and regulate marijuana just got a big boost. New Approach Washington, the campaign that has been working to get enough signatures to get the initiative, I-502, on the ballot recently received two significant donations.

According to an AP report, Harriet Bullitt recently donated $100,000 to the campaign, and Peter Lewis, the Chairman of Progressive Insurance, is planning to donate a total of $250,000 to the campaign. Peter Lewis has been a long term supporter of marijuana policy reform and has helped fund several reform campaigns in the past.

The infusion of campaign money should help New Approach Washington achieve the daunting tasks of first gathering 241,153 valid signatures by the end of this year to get I-502 on the ballot and then running an outreach campaign to explain the measure to the general public. Current indications are that New Approach Washington will likely succeed in getting the signatures necessary, allowing the voters of the state to directly decide whether to legalize and regulate marijuana.

Washington State is demographically a very promising place for a marijuana legalization ballot initiative. The state is one of the most liberal in the country.  It has a below average percentage of citizens over the age of 65, andWashington has traditionally had above average young adult turnout rates.  These factors should help given that young voters tend to be very supportive of marijuana reform.

If the national trend toward growing support for marijuana legalization continues, there is a good chance that a year from now the people of Washington State, along with Colorado, could lead the nation in efforts to legalize and regulate marijuana.