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WA’s campaign to legalize pot blames SEIU, ACLU and Dems for ballot woes

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on June 7, 2010 at 5:53 pm with 14 Comments »
June 8, 2010 12:17 pm

Shortly after the AP reported today that I-1068, the initiative campaign for legalizing marijuana in Washington, is having trouble gathering enough signatures to qualify the measure for this year’s ballot, the campaign issued a lengthy press release. Among other things, it blames Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for “walk(ing) away” from the campaign.

Campaign coordinator Philip Dawdy quotes himself in the press release, saying:

“Politics in this state stink,” said Philip Dawdy, I-1068 campaign director and an initiative co-author. “Marijuana smells better. It’s disappointing that SEIU and others have walked away from us, but this campaign will fight on because the issue is simply too important.”

Dawdy said he’s especially frustrated that the SEIU and others walked away from I-1068 after romancing it for a month because Sensible Washington, sponsors of I-1068, originally approached the state Democratic Party and others in progressive politics back in February, asking for advice and guidance on running a successful initiative campaign. Sensible Washington was ignored until May when it became apparent I-1068 would be a good voter turnout tool. Sensible Washington was told that various political actors in this state felt marijuana law reform was a fringe issue and that people were nervous about potentially being tied to such a campaign.

In a phone call I had with Dawdy today after receiving the press release, he added that he partially blames state Democratic leadership and the ACLU of Washington for their lack of support for the campaign. “F*** them all,” he said of the three groups his campaign is now directly or partially blaming.

“I don’t know what happened or why they (SEIU) walked away,” he added. “But in the end… they’re afraid to support us because they’re either politically afraid or because their mommies will find out they smoke weed. A bunch of chickensh** rich people.”

Dawdy noted that while SEIU was in direct talks with the campaign about supporting the measure, neither state Dems or the ACLU ever were. Still, he said he’s upset at both of those groups for their lack of support to a campaign that Dawdy said normally should have garnered backing from both groups.

State Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz told me in a phone call tonight that I-1068 did come to the party seeking financial help.

“I said that we wouldn’t do that because while there was a lot of support, it wasn’t a priority issue for us,” Pelz said.

Pelz agreed that many local Democratic organizations support the cause, and he expects a resolution to endorse the measure will be introduced at the state party’s coming convention. “But at this point we have not endorsed it,” he said, adding state Dems were not involved in the initiative’s early planning or strategy sessions.

“We never gave an expectation of support and then dropped it,” Pelz added.

(I’ve sent emails to SEIU and the ACLU for comment and will update the post if I hear anything.)

( UPDATE 9:45 a.m. In an email I received Tuesday morning in response to my question asking for comment on the issue, SEIU Local 775 spokesman Adam Glickman wrote: “Nothing to add beyond what’s already been reported.”

UPDATE II: 11:50 a.m. I received a phone call from Doug Honig, spokesman of the ACLU of WA, who said: “I don’t think we have anything new to say. Our position on the initiative has been pretty clear and consistent. When it first came out we posted a position about it and it hasn’t changed. We certainly support the goal of decriminalizing marijuana and legalizing it, but we had some concerns about this specific initiative and didn’t think it was a successful strategy.”)

Still, Dawdy, a former Seattle Weekly reporter, was fuming during my brief phone talk with him today. “It’s going to get even uglier,” he vowed.

The “Sensible Washington” campaign says it has more than 100,000 signatures to date. To qualify, it needs more than 241,000 by July 2.

Here’s I-1068’s full press release:

June 7, 2010
For Immediate Release
Contact: Philip Dawdy, 206-694-3948 or philip.dawdy@gmail.com

Via an Associated Press reporter, Sensible Washington learned earlier this afternoon that the Service Employees International Union and other players in progressive causes in Washington State have declined to financially support paid signature gathering for I-1068. Over the last month, the SEIU and others in state politics have talked with Sensible Washington about steps they could take to ensure that the initiative turned in enough signatures to qualify for this November’s ballot because marijuana legalization being on the ballot would drive extra voter turnout in ways that would benefit progressive causes and candidates in November in what’s shaping up to be a tough year for Democrats and progressive issues. Now after stringing the I-1068 campaign along for four weeks, they’ve walked.

“Politics in this state stink,” said Philip Dawdy, I-1068 campaign director and an initiative co-author. “Marijuana smells better. It’s disappointing that SEIU and others have walked away from us, but this campaign will fight on because the issue is simply too important.”

Dawdy said he’s especially frustrated that the SEIU and others walked away from I-1068 after romancing it for a month because Sensible Washington, sponsors of I-1068, originally approached the state Democratic Party and others in progressive politics back in February, asking for advice and guidance on running a successful initiative campaign. Sensible Washington was ignored until May when it became apparent I-1068 would be a good voter turnout tool. Sensible Washington was told that various political actors in this state felt marijuana law reform was a fringe issue and that people were nervous about potentially being tied to such a campaign.

“It’s 2010 and we’re still facing the old-fashioned, out-dated stigma around marijuana,” said Dawdy. “Voters are five to ten years ahead of the Legislature and the powers-that-be on marijuana law reform. We have a little over three weeks to go and now is the perfect time for the citizens of this state to register their discontent with this state’s marijuana laws and this state’s politics by signing I-1068. We’re going to fight for the people of this state until the end.”

“If we get some more volunteers, we can legalize marijuana in Washington State,” said Jeffrey Steinborn, an initiative co-author and Seattle-based attorney who has defended marijuana users for three decades. I-1068 currently has a volunteer base of 1.800 people and the petition is hosted at over 200 businesses statewide.

The I-1068 campaign has faced down numerous obstacles since forming in January: banks refusing to process online donations; a lack of funding; the ACLU of Washington publicly announcing its non-support of I-1068; police seizing signed I-1068 petitions; a very cold and wet spring which has hampered signature gathering; and an initiative process that is clearly tilted against average citizens and in favor of big moneyed interests.

“The armchair liberals at the ACLU have decided that marijuana shouldn’t be legalized this year,” said Steinborn. “If they’d given us a neutral response, we could’ve raised the funds to get this on the ballot, but they didn’t.”

Another problem the campaign has faced is getting people with signed petitions to turn them in. The I-1068 campaign currently has over 20,000 petitions–enough for 400,000-plus signatures–in circulation in this state that have not come back into the campaign’s Seattle offices. To date, well over 100,000 people have signed the initiative. The campaign’s goal is to collect 320,000 signatures.

In the past, other all-volunteer initiative efforts have collected well over 200,000 signatures in the final weeks of June.

“We’re really looking forward to the public getting signed petitions into us sooner rather than later,” said Dawdy. “Hanging onto them until the end of June could create a logistical logjam.”

The campaign has until June 30 to collect 241,153 valid signatures and turn them in to the Secretary of State’s office.

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Leave a comment Comments → 14
  1. dankuykendall says:

    “police seizing signed I-1068 petitions” Tell us more about this? Who, Where, When?

  2. malcolmkyle says:

    Note to all supporters of prohibition: if your argument sounds ridiculous even to you, and to such an extent that you don’t even want your name attached to it, then save us all the trouble of reading your silly nonsense and find yourselves another lost cause. I know you feel it sucks to see support for your beloved prohibition fading rapidly, but your stupid ideas are what got us into this mess in the first place, so to continue to spew your cognitive dissonance isn’t going help at all.

  3. They may be to stoned to remember to turn in the petitions.

  4. Question_One says:

    “It’s 2010 and we’re still facing the old-fashioned, out-dated stigma around marijuana,”

    The stigma surrounding Marijuana is justified. While under the influence of this drug people subject themselves to anxiety, short term memory loss; long-term risks include the potential for cardiofascular disease, schizophrenia, depression, and bi-polar disorder. And to boot it is a carcinogen.

    Now, before anyone begins the debate surrounding these points, answer one question. How does legalzing pot benefit the health of our society?

    There is a reason we council youth not to smoke pot, because it’s considered a risky behavior. Many people I’ve talked to, who’ve given up smoking, told me that they wanted to stop numbing themselves from their problems, and deal with things. I think it’s true. Pot, like alcohol, serves as an escape to people.

    I think we need to promote healthy communities. Giving people a license to get high isn’t helping them achieve their hopes and dreams.

  5. mopardoctor says:

    These stoneys don’t even know what reality is. A couple months ago I was at the WAC gun show at the Puyallup fairgrounds and the Pot Reformers were out there with all of the other petitioners panhandling for signatures. I thought it was rather odd that the potheads thought that they would get any support or a signature from the people that attend the WAC shows. Did they think that WAC members and guests were going to light up a joint and sign their petition? You can vote down an initative by not signing it.

  6. Reaganomics says:

    Dawdy said, “F*** them all,” he said of the three groups his campaign is now directly or partially blaming.” Wow this guy gives the weed movement instand credibility. How about if Mr. Dawdy just takes the hint that Washington wants to stay sensible and keep this drug off of our streets.

  7. glitchus says:

    SEIU, ACLU and Democrats?!?! Do you really think any of those folks are actually going to help you legalize marijuana? Are you high? (a rhetorical question obviously.) If you actually want to diminish the “nanny-state’s” control over your life, then you need to go over to the Libertarian Party, or even the Republicans. Remember, the Democrats have never seen something that they didn’t want to control, regulate, tax or ban (for your own good, of course.) For example; trans-fat ban, salt ban, tobacco tax, liquor boards, gun control, soda and candy tax, beer tax, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseam. When it comes to personal responsibility and your use of weed, the hypocrite Democrats are the last people you want elected, unless you don’t care about personal freedom and need the state to make all your decisions for you, then welcome to socialism.

  8. Reaganomics says:

    I heard one of the signature gatherers tell a potential signer that the bill was to reduce taxes. When I intervened the gatherer left the area, but he almost got someone to sign by lying and hoping that the person did not read the initiative. They only have 100,000 signatures and need over 100,000 more in less than a month. They probably got half of the signatures by lying, so they know their backs are against the wall.

  9. notSpicoli says:

    Note to the rabid prohibitionists spreading lies, half-truths, and propaganda:

    In the same manner that supporters of I-1068 are labeled potheads, I wonder how many of you who are supporting marijuana prohibition with your lies, half truths, and hysteria are actually drug dealers.

    The biggest losers if marijuana is legalized are drug dealers. I have no doubt that they are working furiously to maintain their money source as did the gangsters of the 1920’s who used every manner to keep alcohol illegal.

    If you are not drug dealers, just naive and uneducated folks who have fallen for the hysterical hyperbole of Anslinger etal and are just the unwitting agents of drug dealers, you still have garnered the appreciation of the Mexican drug cartel leaders you are supporting by your vociferous defense of marijuana prohibition.

    For those of you who are actual misguided zealots, I look forward to your attempts to ban alcohol sales in Washington state, your only ticket from the swamp of hypocrisy in which you find yourself.

    While you’re posting, here are some other items you might wish to incorporate in your support of marijuana prohibition. They are from Harry Anslinger, the patron saint of marijuana prohibition and the first director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics:

    “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

    “…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”

    “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”

    “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

    “Marijuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”

    “You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”

    “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”

  10. notSpicoli says:

    Interesting. When Anslinger made his arguments for outlawing marijuana in 1937, the US population was 129 million and Anslinger claimed 100,000 pot smokers. That’s far less than 1%.

    Now the US population is about 310 million. and the number of estimated marijuana users is 30 million, or approaching 10%.

    Instead of out murdering their brothers, (undoubtedly the real reason Cain killed Abel), marijuana user should heed these wise words of warning:

    “I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast.” –Ronald Reagan

  11. notSpicoli says:

    glitchus says: June 8, 2010 at 6:26 pm “… If you actually want to diminish the “nanny-state’s” control over your life, then you need to go over to the Libertarian Party, or even the Republicans.”

    Jut so you know, the Libertarian Party of Washington was one of the first groups to endorse I-1068. As they only have 400 members, that is not much of a money source.

    Interestingly enough, the economist Jeffery Miron published an article today entitled, “The Tea Party and the Drug War” arguing that “Tea Baggers,” if true to their principles, would be in the same place as the libertarians on the marijuana issue.

    As for the Republicans, forget it. For the most part they are too busy shoving their morality down our throats to be of much help when it comes to a rational public policy on marijuana.

  12. DebbieKat says:

    @notSpicoli – WOW. Those Anslinger quotes you posted absolutely blew me away. Unbelievable. You are 100% on the money. Prohibition didn’t work with alcohol and it won’t work with marijuana either. It’s amazing how the same people who want govt out of their business keep shoving these kinds of laws down our throats.

    @Question_One – I don’t know where you get your “facts” from, but you are way off the mark on the effects of marijuana. WAY off.

    I’ve been looking for the I-1068 initiative to sign it! Come to Trader Joe’s in Totem Lake, Kirkland. There are always Tim Eyman signature gatherers there. I’ll sign it! :-)

  13. notSpicoli says:

    DebbieKat: you can find a list of locations where the petition is available for signing at SensibleWashington.org.

    Hope you’ll take the time to drop by and sign and consider becoming a volunteer.

    I-1068: Yes We Cannabis!

  14. I did it , thank god i did it i stoped at once without using any paid source or material, important is motivation,there is a list here Quit smoking help try to put it on your fridge’s door, it worked to me.

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