In May a federally-funded anti-drug task force seized up to ten sheets of signatures for a marijuana legalization initiative from Washington state residents as “evidence” in a raid against Tacoma’s North End Club 420. Law enforcement has returned two of the sheets (after photocopying them and refusing to destroy the photocopies), but the 420 Club insists that there were 10 sheets in total.
The officers involved are claiming that it was all a mistake, and that they have no problem destroying the photocopies; they just need “an agreement between the prosecution and the defense” to do so.
The question remains, however: why did they seize the petitions in the first place? Why didn’t they return them immediately, if indeed they had made a mistake in seizing them in the first place? What guarantees do the citizens who signed that petition, as they have every right to do without fear of recrimination, have that their names have not been filed away somewhere in police headquarters?
Many are concerned the seizure of petition signatures will put a chilling affect on efforts to get marijuana legalization on the ballot. WestNet’s work is likely to intimidate legalization supporters who now stand only a few weeks away from the signature filing deadline in June.
It’s also an appalling affront to first amendment rights. The seizure of petition signatures in favor of legalizing marijuana by a federally-funded drug task force has effectively silenced the voices of hundreds of voters who signed the petition, only to have their signatures “lost” during the raid.
This is not a marijuana issue; it’s a constitutional issue. Democracy is meaningless if the government can intimidate the citizens who exercise their democratic rights.
FDL has a petition. Sign it.