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Washington became one of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2012. But there are a lot of challenges ahead: the state must set up a licensing system for marijuana growers and sellers, the federal government may mount a challenge, the need to set a new limit on amount of marijuana in the bloodstream for safe driving. And medical marijuana is still in the picture.Over the next several months we will be exploring the issue and tracking the impact of I-502.

What Happens After Vote On Gay Marriage, Pot And Charter Schools?


Marijuana legalization and same-sex marriage are hot-button issues on the Washington ballot. Even after the measures are decided, the debate will likely continue and changes won't happen overnight.

Same-Sex Marriage

Referendum 74 asks  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 R-74 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If R-74 is rejected, the state law would be repealed.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.  Some gay marriage supporters expect the issue would land back in the legislature.


Initiative 502 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 US Attorney for Western Washington, Jenny Durkan, has made it clear marijuana would still be illegal under federal law and if a conflict arises between state and federal law, they would have to figure out how to resolve it.

Durkan 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.

Charter Schools

Initiative 1240 would legalize up to 40 charter schools in Washington over five years. If it passes, the state will appoint a new commission to oversee charters. The first eight charters could be authorized next year.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn opposes the charter school initiative. He’s predicted legal challenges if the measure passes.

If I-1240 doesn’t pass, this would be the fourth time Washington voters turned down charter schools.

KUOW asked the Yes on 1240 campaign what they’d do if the measure doesn’t pass.

They said they’re confident it will.

Year started with KUOW: 2008
Year started with KUOW: 2006