Posted by: sweeneyblog | June 22, 2011

Fmr U.S. Attorney John McKay comes out for re-legalization of marijuana

Here’s the article from the Seattle Times this morning

McKay, who spent five years enforcing federal drug laws as the U.S. attorney in Seattle before he was fired by the Bush administration in early 2007, said he hopes the initiative will help “shame Congress” into ending pot prohibition.

He said laws criminalizing marijuana are wrongheaded because they create an enormous black market exploited by international cartels and crime rings.

“That’s what drives my concern: The black market fuels the cartels, and that’s what allows them to buy the guns they use to kill people,” McKay said. “A lot of Americans smoke pot, and they’re willing to pay for it. I think prohibition is a dumb policy, and there are a lot of line federal prosecutors who share the view that the policy is suspect.”

He was speaking about the initiative filed by “New Approach WA”. This initiative, aimed at the 2012 ballot, would not just decriminalize marijuana but set up a method for regulating it. For instance, this initiative toughens driving under the influence laws to include blood tests for those suspected of being high and provides for selling Marijuana at our state run liquor stores with specific limits on how much you can buy at once. Conservative non-partisan estimates put the revenue at around $230 million a year. The initiative is backed by the ACLU as well as a number of legal experts.

Previous efforts, including the Sensible Washington’s initiative gunning for this year’s ballot, seek to decriminalize marijuana. In short, remove the penalties for possession. Since most enforcement of these sorts of laws falls to local authorities it dodges the conflict with federal laws. The Feds, specifically the Drug Enforcement Agency, would continue to seek out and bust large scale grow and distribution operations, while the idiot teen who got nabbed with a dime bag would get off without much more than a fine. The idea is that this would be so mild that, most people would accept it. Unfortunately, without power backing (i.e. funding) it has only gathered a quarter of the necessary signatures. You can sign it at the Whatcom Dems office downtown (it is in the big building kitty-corner to Rocket Donuts).

I have high, pardon the pun, hopes for this New Approach WA bill. It doesn’t just remove penalties but creates a whole legal framework for handling a substance that is really the child of Alcohol and Cigarettes. It seems to have some hefty political support behind it and with the 2012 election, tap into the youth vote which overwhelmingly supports this issue. Yes, if it passes it will end up at the Supreme Court, but it is about time we had a nation-wide conversation about this, and Washington has a chance to lead the way.

You can check out my previous thoughts on the subject here, where I do a post endorsing the Sensible Washington initiative and here, where I talk about the history of marijuana in America.



  1. Smart. Glad it will be on the 2012 ballot where it belongs. I just couldn’t get behind any marijuana measure in 2011…waste of a good vote draw.

  2. […] made one endorsement (you can read it here) and support a couple of initiatives for the general (here and here), but for the most part, I’ve tried to keep quite because of all these conflicting […]

  3. […] team as New Approach Washington, because these folks are off to a great start.  You can read my initial article about this initiative here, and my case for legalization here. Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: