By ROY JACOBSON
SOUTH WHIDBEY RECORD
South End activist Steve Erickson has put himself on the business end of the statewide push to decriminalize marijuana.
“Unfortunately, the Legislature has failed to act,” Erickson said on Monday.
“If the politicians don’t have the courage to act, then the people will,” he said.
Erickson said several bills that would change the law were submitted during the past Legislative session, “but none of them came up for a vote.”
Erickson is the volunteer field organizer for Island County in the effort to put Initiative 1068 on the November ballot.
He has called a meeting this week to explain the measure and how to gather signatures, and to pass out petitions.
The meeting will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Freeland Library, 5495 Harbor Ave.
Erickson is working for free on behalf of Sensible Washington, the statewide group gathering signatures in support of I-1068. He said about 80 people attended a recent organizational meeting in Seattle.
“There are meetings being held all over the state,” he said.
The measure would remove state civil and criminal penalties for persons 18 years or older who “cultivate, possess, transport, sell, or use marijuana.”
Restrictions and penalties for persons younger than 18 would be retained.
Erickson said he got involved because he thinks there are better things to do than to keep more than a million people in jail for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
He said he’s also opposed to law enforcement officials harassing people who have pot prescriptions, and to having farmers miss out on a profitable new crop.
I-1068 needs 241,000 valid signatures by Friday, July 2, to be placed on the November ballot.
Erickson said that means that 330,000 or more signatures probably need to be collected.
“I really think people are going to get a lot more,” he said. “This really cuts across political lines.
All the polls say its time to end this war on people,” he added.
He said when the issue was raised in California, a drive to collect
400,000 signatures wound up with 700,000.
“It’s going to happen sooner or later,” Erickson predicted. “And the later is this November.”
For information about Thursday’s meeting, the petition drive or Sensible Washington, contact Erickson at Sensible.WA.Whidbey@gmail.com or call 579-2332.
This article was originally published in the South Whidbey Record on February 24, 2010.
Roy Jacobson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.