As planned, the New Approach Washington campaign yesterday turned in over 340,000 signatures for Initiative 502 which will legalize and regulate marijuana. The initiative would allow people over 21 to buy and use small amounts of marijuana for personal use. It would also created a system of state-licensed stores and growers.

The number of signatures turned in is well in excess of the 241,153 required by law. These means the initiative is almost assured to be certified even after some duplicated and invalid signatures are thrown out.

Since New Approach Washington decided to go with the “Initiative to the Legislature” route, once the signatures have been verified the initiative will go before the state legislature. The legislature will than have three options:

  • The legislature can simply pass the initiative making it law.
  • They can reject or fail to act on the initiative within the set time frame, in which case the initiative will go on the ballot for the voters to directly decide on in the next election.
  • Finally the legislature can propose an alternative which would also appear on the ballot along with the original initiative.

The most likely outcome will probably be that the legislature will choose not to act on the initiative so it will go before the voters in November. Recent polling indicates that if marijuana legalization goes on the ballot in Washington state, the voters will approve it.

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