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Rick Steves and Former U.S. Attorney Lead Effort to Legalize Pot

Steves and former U.S. Attorney John McKay are part of a group launching an initiative that would legalize marijuana in Washington state.

Travel guide and Edmonds resident Rick Steves has teamed up with former U.S. Attorney John McKay, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington to campaign for an initiative that would legalize marijuana in Washington state.

The initiative would allow people older than 21 to purchase a limited amount of marijuana. The state Liquor Control Board would have the authority to regulate and tax the drug. Initiative backers estimate marijuana taxes would bring the state $215 million a year.

The initiative would also set up drunk driving type tests for those suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana.

Backers of the proposal need to gather more than 240,000 signatures by the end of this year in order to send the iniative to the legislature. The legislators then could approve it or send it to voters next year.

Steves has long been an advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana. In a blog on his web site, he explains his views on the topic and why he's taken up the cause.

McKay, in turn, said today's marijuana laws create a black market and encourage drug cartels. As the U.S. attorney in Seattle, McKay enforced federal drug laws in Seattle from 2002 to 2007.

The marijuana debate in this state has been contentious. Though the state legislature passed a medical marijuana bill earlier this year, Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed parts of it. She cited concerns that state workers could be prosecuted for marijuana distribution under federal law.

Paula Oppermann June 23, 2011 at 06:03 AM
Legalize it. Sell it in "state liquor and drug stores", tax the hell out of it and bust anyone who sells it or pushes it outside the law. Also allow for someone to grow it for their own use. Think of the money we would save on law enforcement and prison costs. Consider charging more for medical insurance or denying medical insurance for people who use drugs and alcohol too much. Reduce charges for people who don't drink to excess and who smoke dope.
wash-voter June 23, 2011 at 03:41 PM
After spending $1.2 Trillion dollars trying to control nature. I wished we would have spent it on educating our future. I never could understand how locking up one of my neighbors' kids so the other neighbors' kid doesn't have to see someone smoking pot, at my expense, was saving anyone. We are too poor to keep 25% of the worlds prisoners in a country with 5% of the world population. I can't afford to lock up all the people who don't act exactly like me, espesially when the "criminal" poses no threat to me or my property. That's the part of the western lifestyle I grew up with though, if my neighbor doesn't threaten me or my property, we're going to be great neighbors. I don't care if they are different than me, diverity makes this region a great place to live.

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