Effort to make pot legal in Washington state begins

  • Fri Feb 19th, 2010 12:08am
  • News

By Jerry Cornfield Herald Writer

Backers of an initiative to legalize marijuana launched their signature gathering drive Thursday.

Initiative 1068 would remove all criminal penalties for adults for growing, possessing and using marijuana. A bill that would have accomplished the same goal failed this year in the state Legislature.

Philip Dawdy, campaign director and a co-author of the measure, said the seeds of the effort got planted before lawmakers acted.

“On Jan. 1, I was sitting down with Doug Hiatt watching the Rose Bowl and we realized that there was no way the governor was going to sign it,” he said of the legalization bill. “It was time to take this to the people.”

Dawdy, Hiatt, Seattle Hempfest founder Vivian McPeak, longtime medical marijuana patient Ric Smith and Seattle attorney Jeffrey Steinborn drew up the language.

To qualify for the ballot, the organization formed to push the measure, Sensible Washington, needs to turn in 241,153 valid signatures of registered voters to the Secretary of State’s Office on or before July 2. Dawdy said the goal is to gather 320,000 signatures.

This week, training of volunteers on how to properly fill in petition sheets was held in Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma. Dawdy said he hoped to conduct similar trainings in Snohomish County in the next couple weeks.

For information and petitions, contact the group by e-mail at sensiblewashington@gmail.com.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623, jcornfield@heraldnet.com.