Overriding an initiative within months of voters passing it may seem drastic, but that's what state lawmakers are considering right now. Four ranking members of the Washington State Legislature have been scrutinizing Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana last fall. Among their potential revisions, they say the state could raise license fees by thousands of dollars for growers, cities could use more authority to ban pot stores, authorities could postpone the measure to stave off a potential federal intervention, and users could carry a tax stamp to prove their pot was purchased legally.
Olympia has shown little compunction in dismissing the will of voters in the past—in 2009, the legislature swiftly suspended an entire initiative dealing with home health-care workers. But tweaking voter-approved rules within two years of passage does require overcoming an obstacle: reaching a two-thirds majority vote of lawmakers.
Representative Christopher Hurst (D-Enumclaw), who chairs the state house Government Accountability & Oversight Committee, says amending I-502 would essentially require "unanimous agreement" from the legislature and governor. He was the chief signatory on a letter last month to the liquor control board, which is overseeing I-502's implementation, raising seven issues and asking questions about what lawmakers might change before the new pot rules take effect.
"People will say you are trying to slow this down, or stop it, but we are trying to fulfill the wishes of the initiative," says Hurst.