Washington State’s Attorney General and current Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna was at a press conference today, accepting the endorsement of the Council of Metropolitan Police and Sheriffs. He was asked about Washington’s I-502 initiative to legalize possession of an ounce of marijuana by all adults, even healthy ones.
“I oppose it and think it’s going to fail at the ballot,” Republican McKenna told a Seattle news conference.
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.
Well, no, not if Colorado also passes their legalization initiative. It would allow for the home cultivation that Washington’s initiative would not and does not contain any unscientific, unnecessary, and unjust per se DUID provisions, either.
However, the surprising part of McKenna’s remarks isn’t his opposition to legalized marijuana, it is his new-found ability to predict what the federal government will do in response to Washington State liberalizing their marijuana laws.
Just last summer, the Washington legislature approved Senate Bill 5073, which created a complete regulatory structure for medical marijuana dispensaries. It would have removed much of the harm experienced by those currently obtaining cannabis for medicinal purposes by ensuring their medicine was tested for purity and potency and their dispensaries were regulated and licensed.
Gov. Chris Gregoire line-item-vetoed the dispensary language. In response, some Washington legislators wrote to AG McKenna for clarification on how the federal government would respond to the implementation of a state-licensed dispensary system. Then, AG McKenna was unable to make any predictions as to what the federal government would do:
This Office has no control over enforcement of the [Controlled Substances Act], and cannot meaningfully predict what the United States may or may not do in that respect. Their exercise of prosecutorial discretion is dependent on the facts and circumstances of each case, as well as on their interpretation of federal law.