What you need to know about the marijuana legalization debate in Washington state

By MICHAEL WALSH Associated PressWashington (AP) – Marijuana legalization is a long shot, but Washington state’s first recreational marijuana retail stores open Monday and a state task force is recommending they be opened as soon as possible.

The marijuana legalization campaign is gaining steam.

Voters approved Initiative 502 in November to legalize recreational marijuana.

The vote was nearly 97% in favor.

Opponents say the initiative is an overreach by the state government.

They are asking the courts to declare the measure unconstitutional.

Washington is one of the only states that allows people 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

Supporters say the measure is about keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors and will save taxpayers $3.8 billion over the next decade.

The measure is supported by Washington Gov.

Jay Inslee and the Marijuana Policy Project.

The task force, which was formed to advise the governor on marijuana policy, is expected to report to Inslee next month.

The task force includes representatives from Washington’s marijuana industry, the Washington Department of Transportation, the Attorney General’s office, the state’s health department, and the state Department of Health.

The groups say the first store is expected in the Seattle area.

The Washington state legislature is expected next week to begin considering a proposal that would legalize recreational use of marijuana in the state.

That plan is expected eventually to pass by the full state legislature.