International Drug Policy Reform Conference

United States: Marijuana Policy Behind the Scenes - My Notes from a Drug Policy Reform Conference

By Rick Steves, Washington I-502

There is a truth that must be heard! With a group of respected and caring citizens, I have co-sponsored Initiative 502 in Washington State (, which will legalize, tax, and regulate the sale of marijuana for adults. We worked very hard last year to gather more than 350,000 signatures. Last month, we turned them in, and last week, our state government certified that we had gathered enough good signatures. This means that (unless our legislature simply accepts the initiative outright), I-502 will be on the ballot in November of 2012.

I’m working with a wonderful group of activists who (like their counterparts did in the 1930s to end the prohibition against alcohol) endeavor to end the US government’s war on marijuana. We believe that it's not a question of if the USA will stop sending pot smokers to’s a matter of when. While there are many good reasons to be waging this battle, for me this is a matter of civil liberties and pragmatic harm reduction.

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