No on I-502 Flashback, Part 2: It Will Set the Stage for Bad Legalization


In Part 1: Feds Will Never Allow $600 Ounces, I showed how three years ago at Seattle Hempfest, leaders of the “No on I-502” campaign were making claims that pot shops would never exist and we’d never make any tax money in Washington State, but if we did, an ounce would cost $600 and never affect the Mexican cartels.

Today, let’s remember how three years ago, we were told that we had to wait for legalization in Washington State, or else every other state would copy Washington’s bad law, which will never be improved by the legislature.


To be fair, I-502 was saddled with two awful provisions: no home growing and a per se (automatically guilty) stoned driving level of 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood. But the “No on I-502” campaign frightened voters by saying these provisions would become the standard for marijuana legalization nationwide.

“We can’t allow this initiative to set national standards for other legalization initiatives in other states” – Safe Access Alliance’s Ezra Eickmeyer (August 10, 2012, Toke of the Town)

“I-502 sets a horrible precedent. If its execrable DUI provisions and ban on home growing become law here, future states will model their legislation upon it!” – Steve Elliott (August 13, 2012, Toke of the Town)

“This initiative could set a negative precedent across the country.” – Sensible Washington’s Anthony Martinelli (October 20, 2012, The Spokesman-Review)

RESULT: Alaska, Oregon, and Washington DC allow for home grow and have no per se DUIDs. Ohio and Nevada have legalization initiatives on their ballots that allow for home grow and have no per se DUIDs. Initiatives proposed in California, Arizona, Michigan, Maine, and Massachusetts in 2016 all allow for home grow and have no per se DUIDs.


One major scare tactic of “No on I-502” was to frighten medical marijuana patients that legalization would end medical marijuana. There have been major changes, but those have come about from regulating a system that was never regulated in the first place.

“I-502 … would take away the rights of individuals to cultivate their own medicine.” – No on I-502 Campaign Head Steve Sarich (June 24, 2012, Northwest Leaf)

RESULT: Patients may still cultivate their own medicine in Washington, 6 plants at home (and up to the original 15 plants limit if a doctor recommends) or up to 60 plants in a four-person collective. That’s more than all but five medical marijuana states allow.


Another bit of fear mongering was to claim that once enacted, Washington’s marijuana laws would be set in stone, leaving the terrible provisions to remain for eternity.

“If I-502 passes, complacency could dissuade voters and elected officials from supporting legal alterations, or meaningful reform, for years.” – Anthony Martinelli (October 20, 2012, The Spokesman-Review)

RESULT: On April 2, 2014, Gov. Jay Inslee signed HB 2304 which legalized concentrates, the production, processing, and sales of which were forbidden by I-502.

Join us here on Friday when we conclude with Part 3: It’s a Trick to Make More Marijuana Arrests. Then check me out, @RadicalRuss on Periscope.TV for live streaming highlights from this weekend’s Seattle Hempfest.

"Radical" Russ Belville is a blogger, podcaster, and host of The Russ Belville Show, a daily two-hour talk radio show focused on the evolution of the legal marijuana industry in the United States. The program is airing live at 3pm Pacific Time from Portland, Oregon, on, with podcast available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio. Russ began his marijuana activism in 2005 with Oregon NORML, then in 2009 went on to work for National NORML, and found and direct Portland 2015.