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Seattle Hempfest 2012 – The Great I-502 Debate


A Panel Debate About Washington State’s Marijuana Legalization Initiative

Don E. Wirtshafter moderates the most anticipated panel of Seattle Hempfest 2012. Initiative 502 is on the Washington State ballot and would legalize personal possession of marijuana, with state-licensed cultivation for commercial stores. It also institutes a new per se DUID at 5ng of active THC per milliliter of blood, which is an unscientific standard for determining driver impairment.

From left to right: I-502 opponents Steve Elliott from blog Toke of the Town and Legislative Analyst Kari Boiter. I-502 proponents NORML Founder & Legal Counsel Keith Stroup and I-502 Campaign Director Alison Holcomb.


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Johnny Green


  1. Gee, I dont know what to say, I just feel terrible when anyone with your kind of apparent personality, doesnt want to be involved with what I am doing. I know that Keith Stroup of NORML could deal with 88 percent of Americans back in the 1970s who disagreed with legalization – but to lose someone as awesome as yourself – to not have the approval of you – I want Keith Stroup to be as happy as possible – given that. I most dearly hope that you can forgive Seattle Hempfest, because they at least bowed down to you cool people and wouldnt endorse I – 502 ALL so as not to offend you, so I hope you can at least forgive Hempfest.
    Getting booed is easy, you should try it, lets see you get up on stage and say what you said on NORML and see if you get booed. What you say isnt true, its flat out flat false, “leaves every criminal statute”, my goodness man.

  2. We must legalize cannabis, we need the revenue, we are not going to get by without that revenue. Al Capone is getting ready to kill or ensalve us all, we must do this. The DEA has no way to protect us from Al Capone, this idiocy of prohibition is a threat to our life. Once criminals take over, how do you defeat them? They are talking about lead or silver, not nice silver but silver chains of death – the alternative to lead or silver is we have to legalize now while we still can!

  3. Work together? Get along again? Forget it, I condemn those opposed to I 502. The rest of you can get along if you want, I am not going to forget this betrayal. You hypocrites, you talk about being worried that people would get busted under I 502. How do you like the existing system in terms of people getting busted. I am not going to get along with you betrayers.

  4. Get I-502 to pass. I-514 will basically hold the fill-in of what we want. You get 502 to pass and you will see the amount of supporters. That will make 514 having an easier chance in passing. If 502 fails, then 514 will have way more ground they will have to make up. Yes 502 has flaws all over it, but passing this is a small step. But its a small step that pushes things forward smoothly. Im voting “yes” on 502, even though i know it doesn’t benifit that much. Then next year we fix it all with 514.

  5. This is NOT a LEGALIZATION Initiative. PERIOD. It isn’t. It is a very, very weak decriminalization~ that in fact, criminalizes things that aren’t crimes now. Take time to read the initiative. Don’t be a blind follower, just because it sounds good. It isn’t. And by the way, you can’t “outlaw” bugs. Mites are not subject to “legalization”… They are a pest. (Insect). A “Good” grower knows how to avoid/mitigate this issue without chemicals.

    Vote NO on I 502.

  6. Mr. Pickens, Thank you for your open and honest assessment of the entire Initiative. It is refreshing to see that there are other people who take the time to educate themselves on the issue before jumping on a bandwagon blindly~ as so many here seem to have done. Kudos~

  7. @jontomas:disqus You truly are a sheep aren’t you? I bet if Alison Holcolm offered you waterfront property in Arizona you’d buy that too. How’s that ass smell? Surely your head is there so you must know. It is a sad thing, because I bet you truly believe in what you are doing, and that is why you refuse to think for yourself. It’s too bad that a good “soldier” for reform could be led the way you are. You could choose to work for REAL LEGALIZATION but instead you choose to set the movement back. Sad, man. Sad.

  8. Actually Kari Boiter and Steve Elliott dominated the debates, Allison lied repeatedly to the point where people walked out. I know I talked to people who were there. What she failed to tell people is that as of august 1st cops as long as they have been trained can administer a blood draw if they are unable to do so they can take you to a medical facility and take it from you and you cant refuse cause they will hold you down and take it from you. And if you think they cant, think again a judge has already upheld it. At this point they have to prove intoxication with a feild sobriety test, under 502 they do not, they can say you smell like weed.An ammendment to a law is not legalization. Voters are not dumb, The yes on I-502 people have been lying to voters for over a year now, checkout trafficticketsgone.com they are getting geared up right now, so if you dont think the people who sponsered and created this bill arnt gonna make lots of money,you are sadly mistaken. I’m really tired of greedy people creating laws in which the John Q. Public are subject to rules and penties that are out of the realm of realistic. I was convicted in 1997 of manufacturing marijauna in Montana, and I tell you this law would effectively put alot of people with current Felonies over the 3 strikes law if we get busted for as little as being over the 5 ng/ml, I’m sorry this is just not fair. Im not a criminal cause I smoke pot and I’m a patient. I’m all for legalization, just not at the expense of innocent peoples lives, making an entire generation of people into criminals is not the answer. We must find a better way. So please people read the initive in its entirety and dont be fooled by the lies that yes on I-502 would have you to believe. I wanna add something else, Do you think its fair if your child worked hard in school and recieved a scholarship and went off to college went out with some friends to a party smoked a joint then gets pulled over and the cop says your child smells like weed and pulls them out of the car and tests them and if the are a regular smoker they will be over the 5ng/ml, they will lose thier scholarship lose their liscense, insurance rates go up. not to mention if they are under 21 0 tolerance. I do not think it is right for the child to lose everything they have worked for over going out and smoking a joint with some friends. this law is ludacris and it will not pass. “VOTE NO ON I-502”

  9. Before the prohibition on alcohol was repealed, plenty of gangsters made lots of money off of “medicinal alcohol” (http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/medicinal-alcohol-made-mockery-of-prohibition/1095789). Sick patients who use medical marijuana today have nothing to lose from I-502. With no more black market, prices will drop, and there is no reason to believe quality will worsen (after the repeal of prohibition the government played a helpful role by testing alcohol to make sure it was safe to drink. Legalization would make pesticides, mites, and dangerous situations a thing of the past). The initiative isn’t perfect for everyone, but then again what is. Ignore paranoia and fear. Start the ball rolling. Vote I-502.

  10. Simply garbage. The only trolls here are the antis, “crying” about DUI’s when all they really care about is preventing legalization because it will end their outrageous profits.

  11. This is a good demonstration of how greedy growers will go to ANY lengths to keep their bloody gold mines operating. Now they are attacking the leadership of marijuana reform – the same leadership that has taken us to the CUSP of victory.
    This is incredibly sickening and disgusting.

  12. Right. Because they are making tons of money from the status quo. They have TOTALLY lost sight of the goal of marijuana reform – if they ever had it.
    They are no different from the drug gangs. Again, we wouldn’t be having this problem if we had capped medical marijuana at $50 an ounce.
    Money corrupts.

  13. You assume way too much. I am totally aware of all the provisions of I-502.

    You have also ignored my points. There are very few arrests of DUI for marijuana now, because marijuana does not cause significant numbers of accidents on the road. It is NOT alcohol.

    I-502 does not change the nature of marijuana. There will STILL be very few arrests, because there will STILL be very few people driving impaired by marijuana.

    All the persecution of marijuana consumers – including drivers – is primarily based on the bogus “illegality” of marijuana. So, after re-legalization, there will probably be FEWER arrests, since prosecutors will have little motivation, and little success, with prosecuting people who are only statutorily “impaired.”

    THIS article is the near future:

    http://reason.com/blog/2012/08/14/kansas-prosecutor-defeated-by-glaring-st Prosecutor Defeated by Glaring Stupidity of Pot LawsProsecutor Defeated by Glaring Stupidity of Pot Laws

    Jacob Sullum| Aug. 14, 2012

    A Kansas defense attorney reports:

    “I had a jury trial this morning on level 3 possession with intent MJ, level 4 possession drug paraphernalia and level 10 no drug tax stamp. During voir dire, my almost all white, middle-class, middle-aged jury went into full rebellion against the prosecutor stating that they wouldn’t convict even if the client’s guilt was proven beyond a reasonable doubt — almost all of them!

    They felt marijuana should be legalized, what he does with it is his own business and that the jails are already full of people for this silly charge. Then, when the potential jurors found out that the State wanted him to pay taxes on illegal drugs, they went nuts. One woman from the back said how stupid this was and why are we even here wasting our time. A “suit” from the front said this was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard.

    The prosecutor ended up dismissing the case. Judge gave me a dismissal with prejudice. I’m still laughing my ass off over this one. I have NEVER seen a full on mutiny by an entire jury pool before. Easiest win ever!”

  14. As Steve Sarich said-
    Only Alison Holcolm could write an initiative that leaves every criminal statute relating to marijuana on the book in Washington State, and adds new criminal penalties….and still have the balls to look you in the eye and call it “legalization”. Is there any wonder she got booed at Hempfest?

    Only Keith Stroup would vigorously fight against per se DUID limits in every other state, but support a law that would implement a per se DUID limit here in Washington. There’s only one reason to do that…..you want to “claim victory” so you con more cannabis consumers out of contributions….while getting them thrown in jail for DUID’s. For that you earn the “sleazy bastard” award.

    As we pass out “NO ON I-502” brochures all over the state, we’ll be handing out another brochure as well. “No more contributions for AB-NORML behavior”. We’ll be letting everyone know that they should NEVER give their money to a “NORML” listed attorney when they get a DUID. Let’s not reward them for screwing us.

    If you’d like to read about why marijuana is not legal already, just copy this link and read the story of how Keith Stroup, almost single handedly, stopped the legalization of marijuana in the 70’s. Anyone who idolizes Stroup obviously doesn’t know the sordid history of Stroup & NORML.

  15. jontomas: May I suggest that you take the time to educate yourself on the 5 ng THC per milliliter in blood. Colorado recently attempted to pass a similar bill (Sen. Bill 117) but was unsuccessful due to the similar provision. Test after test showed no link between impairment and THC levels in blood.
    I would support this bill if it was amended to make the five nanogram limit presumptive instead of per se, so that a driver’s having exceeded that limit could be used as evidence of impairment, but would not result in an automatic conviction.

    Take the time to EDUCATE yourself and READ THE BILL- DUI provision starts at page 45. I did and I hate that I CAN’T support legalization!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. You are ignoring the present system and hoping for this issue to change that basic, current, premis that the justice system actually works by.
    That working model I talk of is the concept of, and which you refer to as “Guilt”, as seen in our court system. Long gone is the ideal of ‘Innocent unless proven guilty’.
    Yes, there is n existing system that promotes that this ideal exists, but lets look at the fundemental mechanism. The intire structure is built on needing to prove ‘innocence’. The State brings charges and is financed via taxes, the accused must spend ‘earned’ dollars to defend.
    What I am proposing is that there will(in all circumstances including MJ)
    of implied guilt first.
    What this means is determination will always be nessesary, AFTER, this position is assumed. Towit, there will never be a comprimise or letting up of that premiss (the bulk of a court effort will fall on the accused).
    This means any advancement in this situation(MJ prohib) by ‘pros’ is a victory for them, and any determination that a proposal for change that is defeated is a victory for Anti’s. Leaving the system as is.
    Those that hold dear the ideal of perfection(in legislation), as you imply, are either naive or truley wish for ‘as is’.

  17. All the anti-502 crowd has is fear and lies. Ia’ve never been more disappointed in the stupidity and selfishness of people in my life. Thousands of people will not go to jail for smoking pot when 502 passes – but, nooooooo we’re not ognna pass it cause we want to drive stoned. Fuck you. Fuck your lies, fuck your fear. A vote against 502 is a vote to put ME and thousands of others in jail. You just don’t give a damn. Fuck you.

  18. >>>”you are going to use my words whatever way you choose.”

    I don’t use others’ words. I feature them in a spartan way to highlight the key points. Period. It enhances the conversation in a forthright manner.

    >>>”I am a medicinal patient and I do happen to grow my own medicine. I will have you know that I have never profited ONE DOLLAR from my garden,”

    So you say. There are many other ways to profit from prohibition. In my experience, only those who profit from the prohibition devote themselves to campaigning against re-legalization initiatives like I-502.

    >>>”if you think for one second that legalizing cannabis recreationally in the State will stop the Feds from arresting people or coercing local LEO into taking action, well, I feel for you.”

    We’ve been down this road with alcohol prohibition. New York and a few other states said forget it first, before the national repeal took place. This is how the end happens. Your unawareness of the signs of the imminent collapse of marijuana prohibition rings hollow.

  19. @jontomas:
    First of all, you don’t know me and have no idea of my motivation. as to your comment~

    ” Clearly, this great fear is a tempest in a teapot and attempts to disguise the real motivation for opposing re-legalizing marijuana. To protect the outrageous prices and quasi-monopolies a few people in the business now enjoy. ”

    For your information, I am a medicinal patient and I do happen to grow my own medicine. I will have you know that I have never profited ONE DOLLAR from my garden, and in fact have GIVEN AWAY more medicine than you have any clue about. Don’t try to group me into a blanket statement about a marketplace you apparently don’t like or can’t afford. I actually have * compassion* for the people who need this medicine to treat conditions that you, no doubt, haven’t the first concern about.

    I am not going to waste my time arguing semantics with you about what I did or did not say. Clearly you are going to use my words whatever way you choose. That is fine. I stand by my original reply to you and that is that.
    One last thing to you~ if you think for one second that legalizing cannabis recreationally in the State will stop the Feds from arresting people or coercing local LEO into taking action, well, I feel for you. Enjoy your fantasy world.

    @Skeptic: Again, this is a semantical argument. What I stated was that if you are found to be over the threshold you are guilty. You don’t argue that point, but suggest ways around it.

    ” There is no such thing as “automatically guilty”. Your right to a trial can not be taken away from you. Your lawyer can still bring a motion to dismiss if the officer didn’t follow the proper proedures, didn’t have probable cause to arrest you, or didn’t have a reason to pull you over. Per se just means that there’s instruction to the jury that being over the limit is all that is required by the prosecution to prove impairment.”
    Your first and last sentence pretty much contradict each other. The “filling” you give are the ways around the fact that you have no defense against “Per Se”.

    I find it quite unfortunate that some people will blindly follow the flock when they hear something they like, rather than take the time to learn the truth for themselves. I 502 will be a disaster if it passes, and we all will be stuck here to witness the folly of it. Even more unfortunate, the rest of the country will be watching also.

    Vote NO on I 502!

  20. There is no such thing as “automatically guilty”. Your right to a trial can not be taken away from you. Your lawyer can still bring a motion to dismiss if the officer didn’t follow the proper proedures, didn’t have probable cause to arrest you, or didn’t have a reason to pull you over. Per se just means that there’s instruction to the jury that being over the limit is all that is required by the prosecution to prove impairment.

  21. You are now arguing with yourself. You say you do not disagree there will be no increase in arrests, then spend the rest of your post saying there will. Make up your mind.

    You also failed to address the point that since I-502 ends the fraudulent “illegality” of marijuana, it will actually reduce arrests.

    Clearly, this great fear is a tempest in a teapot and attempts to disguise the real motivation for opposing re-legalizing marijuana. To protect the outrageous prices and quasi-monopolies a few people in the business now enjoy.

  22. I’m sure there would be a nightmare scenario if arrests went up and were overboard. People don’t realize that it’s probably not going to be easy going in some area no matter what happens. The police will find loopholes or make them for any initiative that is passed (Don’t think so? They will fight it toe and nail without any regard for the law).. It’s time to get something legalized and then hammer the police about their actions. There is a a nice sized growing amount of people who are sick of the war on drugs. If they start to go overboard on citizens I think something major would happen with outcries. It wouldn’t last long and would be the final coffin in letting the govt know we mean business. Some folks are acting like this initiative is the end of the world. Who said it would ever be easy and it would take constant fighting back? Let’s move forward, vote these initiatives in to effect, and then hammer out the details and hold the correct authorities accountable for being crooked.

  23. First of all what I said was that it (a Per Se citation/arrest) was NON DEFENSIBLE. That means AUTOMATICALLY GUILTY. Be clear on that. I said no such thing as there would be a resulting “spike” in arrests. I am not stating “fear” as you like to call it. I am stating FACT. It is not my “belief” that arrests will spike. What I AM saying is that:

    A) The limit is scientifically arbitrary and meaningless (That means it has no basis in fact)

    B) IF you are stopped and tested with a positive result, you are GUILTY. Period. You may not have smoked/consumed in days or weeks but these substances stay in your system. Doubt me? Try it for yourself. (or ask any expert who WILL tell you that THC/cannabinoids stay in your system far longer than the few hours you are intoxicated by it).

    C) The fact that many users, recreational or otherwise, use either frequently or heavily, or both~ will subject them to convictions under this law with NO RECOURSE to contest the issue. (See above)

    D) If you believe that there are no law enforcement agencies/officers that will take advantage of this law to single out “known users” then you, sir, are a fool. We don’t live in an Utopian society. Wake up. Dishonesty is not limited to the criminal element.

    That is why I oppose it as it stands now.

    Make no mistake, I am a lifelong supporter of legalization. Never did I think we would be having a serious discussion about the potential legalization of my beloved herb. Passing a flawed law is far worse than no law at all. You are creating innocent victims out of normally law-abiding citizens. That is a shame. Those are the FACTS.

    Don’t mince my words or misstate what I have said. Maybe you do because of your own fear. The fear that I speak the TRUTH.

  24. Allison Bites on

    I wonder how much of the 3.5 million that the corps and lawyers have gathered to pull the wool over the public’s eyes and jam I-502 into law is spent on trolls like those who are haunting this site. Allowing the State to arrest pot smokers every time they get behind the wheel will not end the war on drugs, and a state sponsored monopoly will not end the black market. I-502 is a frankenstein initiative cobbled together by legislative policy wonks (Ms. Holcomb) law enforcement Mr. McKay) and corporate interests (Progressive Insurance) and large law firms (Gordon Thomas Honeywell). These corporate hacks have attempted to perpetrate a grand fraud upon the public and all the money and trolls in the world won’t hide the truth_ I-502 is just bad policy.

  25. None of this matters unless da weed gets reclassfied. The fed goverment can and will provoke their will on who ever they want. Lets get behind reclassfing …… FEED da WEED ITS A PLANT…………

  26. Sorry, but you, just like Elliot and and Boiter, have nothing but fear as the basis for your belief these arrests will increase. Several states instituted per se driving restrictions and NONE have had spikes in arrests – even those, like Utah and Georgia, that have no medical marijuana programs and punish marijuana consumers much worse than Washington.

    Instead, since I-502 ends the fraudulent “illegality” of marijuana, it will actually reduce arrests. No REAL reformer would vote against any re-legalization initiative.

  27. You both realize what “Per Se” means in Legalese, right? It means GUILTY. Period. NO DEFENSE ALLOWED. This is the flaw in I 502. As the header states, the 5nl per ml is an UNSCIENTIFIC measure. Supporters of I 502 are asking to set a legal precedent that will affect every driver who takes any kind of prescription drugs. And don’t kid yourself into thinking it will stop there. You will be giving the cops and prosecutors a new tool to take away even more of your liberty. I am pro Cannabis~ I am seriously anti-I 502. The DUID provision is a fatal flaw that must be stopped.

  28. Yep many of those individuals, like Steve Elliot, are out for themselves and have ulterior motives. I don’t understand how an idiot like Elliot even has a few fans although most of them would be a sheep to anybody supporting cannabis. The worst part about Elliot is that he will go down to an immature level instead of debating logically. He does a ton of harm for the good guys and people need to open their eyes to his silly juvenile bullshit. No initial initiative will be perfect. They don’t seem to care or understand this.

  29. The anti I-502 group focused 90 percent of their debate on the DUI provisions, trying to convince people I-502 will cause the swift arrests of all marijuana consumers who drive. This is simply ludicrous.

    Alison Holcomb gave a very reasoned and detailed explanation of how states that put per se laws on the books have NOT had a spike in DUI arrests for marijuana, AND showed how it was probable I-502 would lead to LESS of those arrests.

    The antis didn’t give anything but fear as basis for their belief these arrests will increase. Holcomb clearly won the debate on this point. To me, this was the defining moment of this event.

    The anti group is crying crocodile tears. As we saw in California, they are primarily the greedy growers, dispensaries and others who profit from the current war on marijuana consumers. They would find fault with ANY initiative.

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