Hot-Button Initiatives, After the Vote

Nov 5, 2012

Marijuana legalization. Same-sex marriage. These are hot-button issues on the ballot for Washington voters. Even after the measures are decided, the debate will likely continue.

Let’s start with Referendum 74. It’s asks Washington voters to approve or reject a new state law that allows same-sex couples to marry. If the law is upheld, gay couples could start getting married December 9.

Approval of R74 would also affect nearly 10,000 couples who are registered as domestic partners.
The partnerships would still be open to senior citizens, but all other same-sex partners could decide to dissolve the partnership or convert it to marriage. If they take no action, the partnership would automatically convert to marriage in June 2014.

If R74 is rejected, the state law would be repealed. Campaigns on both sides say it’s unclear what their next move would be if they lose.

On to Initiative 502. It seeks to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. If passed, state-licensed “pot shops” could spring up in about a year. That would give the state time to set up a regulatory system for growers and sellers.

The feds’ reaction to legalization is a lingering question. The U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, Jenny Durkan, has made it clear marijuana would still be illegal under federal law. And that if state law conflicts with that, they’d have to figure out how to resolve it.

But she also told KUOW her office tends to focus on high-level cartel operations. She says it’s very rare for them to pursue cases that just deal with marijuana.

Copyright 2012 KUOW