What Now?

FAQs on Washington’s initiatives and referendums


It’s going to be a while before we see storefronts selling the region’s favorite cash crop (if we see them at all). Here’s what you should know in the meantime.

So, I’m in the clear for my stash?

As of Dec. 6, if you’re 21 or older, you’re allowed up to 1 ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of solid infused products or 72 ounces of infused liquid. Keep in mind, you’re not allowed to have it “on display” — no lighting up in public — and there’s still no place buy it legally. The state Liquor Control Board, with help from the departments of Agriculture and Health, has until Dec. 1, 2013 to craft the rules for licensing and regulating growers and sellers.

Aren’t the feds going to step in?
What will that look like?

A physical standoff is highly unlikely, even once storefronts exist, but raids aren’t out of the question. Advocates expect federal authorities to seek an injunction to put the law on hold or, as they’ve done with medical marijuana, to continue enforcing federal laws under the “dual sovereignty doctrine.” Hopeful proponents think the feds will hesitate to override the will of the voters, but federal authorities insist nothing has changed.

Will my blood be tested at a traffic stop?

If an officer suspects you’re under any kind of influence, you’ll get a normal field sobriety test. With probable cause, officers could bring you to a precinct and ask you for a blood draw, but they’ll need a warrant if you refuse. According to the new law, you’re subject to a DUI if your active THC levels are above 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood, which advocates say won’t be a problem if you wait a few hours after inhaling and four to eight hours after eating.



Marriage equality survived the polls. Now, the state readies for an influx of new marriage license applications.

When can same-sex couples get married?

Couples can apply for marriage licenses from county offices beginning Dec. 6, but the state’s three-day waiting period means the first same-sex marriages won’t be until Dec. 9.

Does that mean they get federal benefits?

No, married same-sex couples are still denied federal pensions and other benefits because of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. (A handful of cases challenging DOMA are currently pending.)

Are my kids going to learn about gay marriage in school?

Referendum 74 included no language about changing school curricula. A representative from Washington Public Schools told The Inlander before the election that legal same-sex marriage would not directly alter how or what students are taught in school.


Charters Take Flight

After four previous attempts, charter schools have finally been approved in Washington state.

Will there be a charter school in Spokane?

Almost certainly. One of the little-known aspects of the charter school initiative was that current school districts could create charter schools. Shelley Redinger, superintendent for Spokane Public Schools, is already planning to operate at least one charter school, likely within one of the district’s current buildings. However, only 40 schools across the entire state will be allowed to form in the next five years.

Will this cost current schools money?

Depends on the way you look at it. For each student, schools receive a set amount of money. If that student leaves, whether transferring out of the district or joining a charter school, the money goes with her. If a whole flock of students leave North Central High School for a theoretical charter school, for example, NC might struggle financially with the lower enrollment.

The Office of Financial Management is unclear on some of the financial costs, but estimates that implementation alone will cost a little more than $3 million statewide across the next five years.

Who approves a charter school?

Within 90 days of the election, the governor, Senate president and state Speaker of the House will appoint nine unpaid volunteers to the Washington State Charter School Commission. Any potential charter school has to be approved by either that commission or the local school board.

Any big looming legal issues?

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn has raised questions about whether the measure violates the state Constitution. The Constitution currently gives Dorn the job of overseeing all public schools — and he thinks the Charter School Commission infringes on his territory.


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About The Authors

Heidi Groover

Heidi Groover is a staff writer at the Inlander, where she covers city government and drug policy. On the job, she's spent time with prostitutes, "street kids," marriage equality advocates and the family of a 16-year-old organ donor...

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, Daniel Walters is the Inlander's senior investigative reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...