Across America, people are awakening to the exorbitant cost of the failed policy of marijuana prohibition. A 2009 study by John Gettman, Ph.D. showed that the fiscal cost of marijuana prohibition costs our criminal justice system over $100 million dollars annually. And contrary to the belief of some in law enforcement, out of all marijuana-related arrests, 90% were for simple possession. In a time when governments across the country are slashing basic services because of budget shortfalls, it is maddening to see an industry begging to be legalized and taxed. 

The LGBT community has long been aware of the benefits of marijuana because of the AIDS crisis. Every state with a medical marijuana program explicitly lists AIDS as a qualifying condition. After trying every pharmaceutical on the market for my migraines, the only thing that I have found to stop them cold is marijuana. These migraines coupled with my degenerate neck are the reasons I am fortunate enough to have a recommendation to use marijuana.

But for me, the decision to use this drug is a matter of personal autonomy,  something that I have been fighting for since coming out lo these many years ago. Adults should be free to choose which intoxicant they imbibe. I have personally experienced the devastation of alcohol addiction. And I have personally experienced the improvement to my quality of life because of this banned plant. I am doing my part to end this madness by volunteering with Sensible Washington.

Sensible Washington, the group behind Initiative 1149 (The Marijuana Reform Act) is planning a series of events across the state to gather signatures and rally to end prohibition. A recent poll by King 5 News showed that 52% of Washington state voters favor legalization and for good reason. Marijuana is safer than alcohol, tobacco and even caffeine. Not a single death has ever been attributed to marijuana. In fact, marijuana has been proven time and again to have many medicinal benefits

Press release below the fold.




CONTACT: Douglas Hiatt: 206-412-8807; Jeffrey Steinborn: 206-622-5117

Last week, Governor Chris Gregoire indicated that she plans to veto a medical cannabis bill that has the support of doctors, patients, city governments, and the legislature.  The bill had been carefully written and amended to ensure that Washington would have the soundest medical cannabis regulations in the country, protecting patients, providing clarity for law enforcement, and allowing cities to enact smart zoning regulations to keep dispensaries from being located near schools.  Instead, the governor appears to be misinterpreting established federal policy in order to veto it, potentially leaving Washington with its existing mess of unregulated dispensaries and inviting more conflicts between law enforcement and the communities they’re tasked to protect.

“This development makes it all the more clear that Initiative 1149 is the solution,” says attorney and NORML board member Jeffrey Steinborn.  “If the state of Washington, by initiative, repeals all criminal penalties for adult involvement in cannabis, and instructs the legislature to pass some reasonable regulations, the Feds are left with but two choices: first, they can defer to the will of the people of Washington and allow the state to regulate it. Second, they can invalidate any regulations that the state passes, leaving cannabis totally unregulated. That’s how the prohibition of alcohol was abolished. It’s the best way to eliminate the prohibition against responsible adult use of cannabis. This is the way real reform happens.”

Sensible Washington is planning a series of events around the state this Wednesday, April 20, to promote I-1149 and gather signatures.  This ballot initiative would remove all civil and criminal penalties for the adult possession, use, manufacture or delivery of cannabis, and it would instruct the legislature to enact appropriate regulations for those activities.  The passage of this bill would reduce criminal activity, provide a much-needed boost to the state economy, allow for both cannabis and hemp to be grown in environmentally-sound ways, and establish enforceable age restrictions that can finally prevent sales to minors.

In Seattle, there will be a press conference at the north end of Westlake Park at 1:00 p.m. where attorneys, activists, and other volunteers will speak on behalf of Initiative 1149 and answer questions.  This will be followed by a rally at 2:00 p.m.

In other areas of the state, volunteers will be holding rallies and gathering signatures.  For more regional specific information, please contact the following individuals:

Seattle – Rally at Westlake Park
Ryan Blackhawke –
Mary Clare Kersten –

Tacoma – Signature gathering across the city
Justin Prince –

Spokane – Events downtown near the library
Dave Bilsland –

Olympia – Signature gathering across the city
Rose Eilts –

Yakima – Signature gathering across the city

Pullman – Rally at the entrance of the Lighty Bridge
Claude –

 In order to pass I-1149, we need your help. Washington state has the toughest citizen's initiative process in the country. We have to collect more signatures in less time than any other state with an initiative process. We need your time and energy. And even though Sensible Washington is an all-volunteer group, political campaigns still cost money. You can help by spreading the word about I-1149. Join us as we make history.