by David Downs
Backed by the likes of Progressive insurance founder Peter Lewis, the proponents of Washington state's pot regulation Initiative 502 are ramping up a $1 million advertising campaign this week using a soccer mom-centric first ad that premiered Wednesday in Seattle and will run until August 25.
The initiative would legalize personal possession and use of cannabis by adults 21 and older, license growers and stores, and tax marijuana production and sale. On August 10, Washington state released an estimate that I-502 could raise $1.9 billion in new taxes over five years.
"The analysis anticipates 100 state-licensed growers supplying 328 marijuana stores that would sell more than 187,000 pounds to at least 363,000 customers," according to the Seattle P-I. (The state based its analysis on federal drug-se statistics.)
Again from the Seattle P-I: "Consumers would pay $12 per gram — the price currently charged by many medical marijuana dispensaries — plus the 25 percent marijuana tax, 10 percent state sales tax, and any local sales tax, the analysts assumed."
Revenue estimates do not include cost-savings from decreased pot law enforcement, nor can they account for possible federal interference in the state system. If history is a guide, federal interference in the election is virtually assured. Attorney General Eric Holder ended California's dreams of weed tax revenue in 2010, promising "vigorous" enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act no matter how Californians voted. Prop 19 poll numbers sunk in teh wake of the announcement.
Washington voters currently favor I-502 55 percent to 32 percent, according to one recent poll.
Take it away, Washington mother of four and paid actress Kate Pippinger:
It’s a multi-million dollar industry in Washington State and we get no benefit.
What if we regulate it?
Have background checks for retailers, stiff penalties for selling to minors.
We could tax it to fund schools and health care.
Free up police to go after violent crime instead.
And we would control the money, not the gangs.
Let’s talk about a new approach.
Legalizing and regulating marijuana.