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Washington State Moves toward Legalizing Marijuana

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Nov 02, 2012 | 0 Comments

As Election Day draws near, the nation is abuzz with debates about health care, foreign policy and the job market. The issue of marijuana decriminalization is also important to consider, however, because it may have serious historical implications. Washington State is one of three states that may become the first in the nation to decriminalize marijuana.

Initiative 502 seeks to define and distinguish marijuana from other parts of the cannabis plant and legalize small amounts of the drug for most adults. If I-502 passes, marijuana revenue will be taxed and used to pay for healthcare, as well as substance abuse prevention and education. According to the Secretary of State's Office, the measure would "license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over twenty-one; remove state-law criminal and civil penalties for activities that it authorizes; tax marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues."

The law would prohibit marijuana use for anyone under the age of 21, and would still result in the prosecution of anyone who grows or distributes unlicensed marijuana. Cannabis is still recognized as a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government, so if I-502 passes, the new state law will be at odds with federal law, but our states has already seen this conflict with medical marijuana laws. Still, consumers should take note that a change in state law will not protect you from federal prosecution.

But what does I-502 mean for DUI? This is a widely-overlooked but extremely important variable to consider. The initiative would largely allocate law enforcement resources to DUI enforcement, which may amount to an increase in DUI arrests. Marijuana users would also be subject to DUI prosecution, as the initiative sets a DUI limit of active blood THC levels at greater than or equal to 5 nanograms per milliliter.

Some marijuana activists are especially concerned about this provision, arguing that medical marijuana patients often must drive with greater THC levels in their systems, and therefore may be subject to unfair prosecution. One thing is for certain. If I-502 passes, it may mean changes for DUI in the state. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.

If you have already been charged with DUI, your first course of action should be to hire an aggressive DUI lawyer. A qualified, experienced attorney can help you to level the playing field against a legal system that's stacked against you. Call Wolff Defense today at 425-284-2000 or visit our website at

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 18 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.


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