In California, marijuana was legalized for medicinal use in 1996, and now in Washington State, a new initiative, I-502, will make the drug legal for persons over 21. Its biggest advocates are Seattle’s elite and members of law enforcement, reports Time magazine, because they say the war on drugs has failed.
“We’ve tried criminalization. It’s an abject failure,” John McKay, who served as U.S. Attorney in Seattle from 2001 to 2007, tells TIME. McKay says Washington is awash in marijuana from gigantic hydroponic operations in lower British Columbia, which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police say are worth roughly $25 billion a year. Most of that cannabis crosses the U.S. border through what used to be McKay’s district. “Millions and millions of Americans smoke marijuana, and since it’s illegal, they inadvertently fund criminal activity. The way you get the market back is, you make it legal for businesses to compete for it.”
There are growing signs that Washington voters may heed McKay’s advice. A poll conducted in September by SurveyUSA showed that 57% of respondents will vote for I-502, while 9% remain undecided. On Election Day, that support should be enough to see I-502 approved, say drug-policy experts, who are also monitoring marijuana-legalization propositions in Oregon and Colorado. The Washington poll coincides with a national survey conducted by Gallup in October showing that 50% of Americans believe marijuana use should be legal.