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Almost No Organized Opposition to Marijuana Legalization in Washington State

Washington State is one of three states voting on marijuana legalization initiatives this November. Apparently in Washington state, while there are a few in the medical marijuana community unhappy with Initiative 502’s specific language, there is almost no organized opposition to the initiative from groups fundamentally opposed to the idea of legalizing marijuana. From the News Tribune (via Drug War Rant):

As far as I can tell, there’s little credible opposition to Initiative 502. (I’m not counting the “medical marijuana” people – who have a mercenary stake in its defeat – as credible.)

Last Wednesday, we were supposed to do a joint television interview of the initiative’s opponents and supporters. For something like this, we normally call the campaigns, and they eagerly supply the speakers.

The sponsors of I-502 responded immediately. But it proved hard even to find opponents willing and able to make their case in front of TVW’s cameras.

We started with Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, the state’s most prominent drug opponent. He begged off because he was in the middle of a re-election campaign. But he gave us a list of people who might help.

We went through one name after another. They couldn’t do it because they worked for a public agency, because they couldn’t make it that particular morning, because of this, because of that.

Priscilla Lisicich offered to take up the standard on behalf of Safe Streets, but we needed a team – not a single brave soul – on that side of the table.

It dawned on me that there is NO team. I found ad hoc opponents here and there, but no coherent statewide campaign against I-502. We were trying to invent a campaign that apparently doesn’t exist. That’s not our job, to say the least.

This realty is clearly reflected in the campaign filing reports. According to Washington State’s Public Disclosure Commission, New Approach Washington, the campaign behind I-502, has raised just over three million dollars for their efforts. It is a real campaign with the funding to do advertising, voter outreach and organizing. By comparison, the two campaigns registered with the state as opposing the initiative have raised less than $13,000 to date combined.

It is possible a well funded campaign could still emerge to oppose the legalization initiative but as we get closer to November, it becomes less likely.

While New Approach Washington doesn’t currently seem to have a real organization opposition campaign, that doesn’t mean its job is going to be easy. It is still indirectly fighting against millions the government spent on anti-marijuana propaganda over the past few decades.

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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