Washington State Marijuana Legalization Drive Comes Close, But Fails to Qualify for November Ballot

Sensible Washington will likely fall just short of the number of petition signatures it needs to get its Marijuana legalization referendum, Initiative 1068, put on the November ballot. Today is the deadline for submitting petition signatures for ballot measures in Washington State, and the campaign says they will be several thousand names shy of the roughly 240,000 needed. From the “Seattle Times”:

Philip Dawdy, campaign director for the initiative, blamed the cold and rainy spring. “We ran into a lot of problems with the mechanics just because of the weather,” he said.

Dawdy said the all-volunteer campaign will probably end up 40,000 to 50,000 signatures short of what’s needed.

Even though they failed to get the needed number of signatures, this is still an impressive accomplishment for a truly grassroots organization with very little financial backing. Washington State’s strange petition laws about paper size (PDF) make it very burdensome for true grassroots initiative campaigns in the digital era.

The Washington State Democratic party recently endorsed the initiative effort, but the endorsement, coming only days before the deadline, was far too late to make a difference.

Don’t be surprised if a marijuana legalization ballot initiative does qualify for the Washington ballot in 2012–especially if Proposition 19 passes in California this November. With much earlier support from parts of the state Democratic party, a broader coalition and some extra financing, a cannabis legalization ballot measure signature drive could more easily succeed. While Sensible Washington did fail in their stated goal, they did prove that there is strong grassroots energy and many dedicated volunteers in the state on the side of cannabis legalization.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at