Two former U.S. Attorneys in Washington state star in new television ads promoting an initiative that would legalize and tax the sale of recreational marijuana, arguing that failed enforcement efforts are creating more problems than they solve.
John McKay, who served under President George W. Bush; and Kate Pflaumer, who served under President Bill Clinton; both appear in the TV spots, declaring that current marijuana laws need rethinking.
Initiative 502 would regulate recreational marijuana sales, creating a system of licensed growers and stores, according to a report by The Olympian. The 30-second ads in support of the initiative will appear on major broadcast stations in the Seattle, Spokane, Vancouver and Longview regions, the report said.
The growing movement to legalize medical marijuana, mostly in the West, has created a rift between state and federal authorities. Marijuana remains an illicit substance under federal law, though President Barack Obama once said its medicinal use would not be a major focus of his Justice Department. There have been flashpoints, though, with the city of Oakland, Calif., announcing it is suing the federal government to stop prosecutors from seizing property leased by a medical marijuana dispensary there. The suit is against Attorney General Eric Holder and Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.
Washington, Oregon and Colorado are all considering ballot measures that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. A Justice Department spokeswoman told the Washington Post on Thursday that the department would not “speculate on the outcome of various ballot initiatives state by state.
McKay, a Republican, served as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington from 2001 to 2007. He was among the U.S. Attorneys fired in the George W. Bush administration purge that created an uproar in Congress because the firings appeared to be politically motivated. McKay, who has been advocating for marijuana legalization for several years, takes center stage in one of the two ads, saying “it’s time for a new approach.”
“Filling our courts and jails has failed to reduce marijuana use,” he says. “And drug cartels are pocketing all the profits.”
He urges passing the initiative so that authorities will have more resources to go after violent crime.
Pflaumer, who served as U.S. Attorney for the district from 1992 to 2000, appeared in a spot with McKay and Charles Mandigo, former head of the FBI’s Seattle office.
Pflaumer urges Washingtonians vote in favor of the initiative so that revenue will be freed up to go toward education, healthcare and prevention.