November 4, 2011

Marijuana Initiative in Washington State to Get $300,000 Boost

On Tuesday, we provided an update on the drive to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Colorado, reporting that pot proponents are well on their way to getting the required number of valid signatures to put the initiative to a vote.

But the Centennial State isn’t the only one having success in this area. A similar initiative in Washington State received a huge shot in the arm this week, receiving commitments for $300,000 in additional funding from two bigwigs.

This is a major influx of cash for a marijuana legalization drive. Most groups lobbying for the same types of laws in other states are lucky to receive $10,000 or $20,000. In fact, industry pioneer and well-known pot advocate Richard Lee – who founded Oaksterdam University – wasn’t able to raise any significant funding for his recent push to legalize marijuana in California and has now abandoned the effort.

That makes the donation tally for the Washington initiative all the more impressive. According to the Seattle Times, philanthropist Harriet Bullitt is funneling $100,000 into legalization efforts, while Peter Lewis – a top executive at Progressive Insurance – is pitching in $200,000 on top of $50,000 he already committed. Campaign officials say they now have $1 million in funds, which they are confident is enough to get the 241,000 valid signatures needed by the end of this year to get the petition in front of state legislators. Lawmakers can then sign off on the initiative or put it up for a public vote next November.

The proposal would allow residents who are at least 21 years old to posses limited amounts of marijuana, edibles and pot infused-drinks.

Professionals in the medical marijuana industry should watch these efforts closely. The legalization of marijuana for general use could turn the MMJ industry on its head, introducing even more chaos into the mix and opening the door to a slew of new competitors. Then again, even if voters pass such a measure it’s unlikely we’d see fully legalized marijuana anytime soon, as the federal government would most certainly interfere.

 

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