Former US Attorney in Favor of Legalizing Pot 
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Former US Attorney in Favor of Legalizing Pot 
Posted by CN Staff on March 17, 2011 at 06:01:12 PT
By Molly Rosbach, Associated Press
Source: Seattle Times
Olympia, Wash. -- Marijuana should be decriminalized and regulated to end the unnecessary violence spawned by the drug trade in the U.S. and Mexico, a former U.S. attorney from Seattle says.John McKay was part of a panel of officials invited by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle, to speak at a news conference Wednesday aimed at drumming up support for her marijuana legalization bill. McKay directed federal prosecutions in Western Washington from 2001 to 2006, when the Bush administration fired him.
"Prohibition has failed, and frankly has failed for over 80 years," McKay said. "That means we have to have a different approach to the fact that 14 million Americans choose to smoke marijuana in the face of federal prison."Dickerson's bill seeks to have the Washington State Liquor Control board sell and regulate cannabis, and would make marijuana possession legal for adults over age 21. It is being reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee after being tabled by another House committee last month.Supporters say the bill could raise $440 million in tax revenue per biennium - much-needed money in the face of a $5 billion deficit in the next two-year state budget.Dickerson wants to build momentum for the bill ahead of Thursday's revenue forecast, which some predict could show the deficit to be around $500 million greater than previously thought."In these trying times, $440 million of new revenue should definitely be of interest to the Legislature," Dickerson said.The bill lays out where that revenue would go: 75 percent is dedicated to health care; 20 percent to substance abuse prevention and intervention; and 5 percent to the Liquor Control Board, the Department of Agriculture, and cities and counties.Even if the measure becomes law, however, it wouldn't take effect until 2013 - too late to help with the current budget crisis.Opponents say legalizing marijuana would bring the state a host of legal problems. Federal law bars personal and medical use of pot, and penalties for violations are severe, especially compared with Washington's stance on the drug. Seattle officials recently have moved to put marijuana possession in the lowest law-enforcement priority and have lobbied for legalization.House Minority Leader Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, said he doesn't think now is the right time to discuss legalizing pot, adding that lawmakers are struggling with navigating medical marijuana laws.A measure approved by the Senate would move medical marijuana out of a legal gray area; it's technically legal for a patient to possess pot, but the proper ways of getting the drug can be unclear."Once we tackle this over the next couple of years, then you can have a true debate. But right now, we don't truly understand this law," DeBolt said.McKay said he supports Dickerson's bill but warned not to expect the huge revenues other backers are anticipating. He said heavy taxes on marijuana will only drive the drug back underground, where it's cheaper and easier to buy.McKay said he instead supports regulation and decriminalization to end the violent drug trade centered on the U.S.-Mexico border. He and Dickerson said states will have to "lead the charge" in decriminalizing pot in the U.S."It's going to take Washington state to literally stick its neck out so we can finally repeal this insane policy of prohibition," Dickerson said.Speculation abounded after McKay was dismissed from his federal prosecutor position; a later investigation by the U.S. Justice Department concluded the firing of McKay and eight other U.S. attorneys was improperly political, though not criminal.Also at Wednesday's news conference were Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess; Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes; and Jodie Emery, wife of Marc Emery, the so-called "Prince of Pot" whom McKay prosecuted in 2005 for selling marijuana seeds.Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Molly Rosbach, Associated PressPublished: March 16, 2011Copyright: 2011 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis  Archives 
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