Attorney General Rob McKenna, accepting a police lobby’s gubernatorial endorsement, on Tuesday took pot shots at Initiative 502, a measure to legalize the sale and growing of marijuana in the state of Washington.
“I oppose it and think it’s going to fail at the ballot,” Republican McKenna told a Seattle news conference.
Backers of McKenna’s Democratic opponent, Rep. Jay Inslee, have predicted that statewide votes on marijuana legalization and same-sex marriage will encourage younger liberal voters to cast ballots in the November election. McKenna has said he will vote against same-sex marriage if a referendum makes the ballot.
I-502 has garnered support from two former U.S. attorneys, the retired head of the FBI’s Seattle office, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes,and leaders of the legal and medical professions.
But McKenna argued that the measure is a “recipe for disaster if it passes.” He predicted that legalization would harm those who now obtain cannabis for medicinal purposes.
“Once we open the door to all kinds of marijuana, with use by all kinds of people, medical marijuana users will be swept up,” McKenna warned.
The attorney general added that federal penalties against marijuana possession would remain in force, regardless of what state voters decide to do. McKenna noted warnings from the state’s two current U.S. attorneys that they are “under orders to enforce federal law.”
“If this passes, we would be the only state to pass such a sweeping law,” McKenna added.
The attorney general predicted that voters “will be hearing a great deal” from law enforcement organizations in opposition to I-502.
I-502 has qualified for the November ballot. The initiative would have the state regulate and tax marijuana, with revenue divided between drug education and prevention and funding health plans. Cannabis would be sold at state stores, under auspices of the Washington Liquor Control Board.
McKenna was endorsed for governor by the Council of Metropolitan Police and Sheriffs (COMPAS). COMPAS backed his 2004 and 2008 campaigns for attorney general, and supported McKenna at the beginning of his career when he ran for King County Council.
McKenna vowed that issues of crime and punishment will be “a high profile issue in the race for governor.”
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