Washington State is set to decide on a measure that would make marijuana legal for people older than 21. But the people advocating for legalization aren’t Cheech-and-Chong caricatures, but former federal law enforcement officials who think the war on drugs has been a giant boondoggle, according to Time:
â€śWeâ€™ve tried criminalization. Itâ€™s an abject failure,â€ť 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 McKayâ€™s district. â€śMillions and millions of Americans smoke marijuana, and since itâ€™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.â€ť
There are growing signs that Washington voters may heed McKayâ€™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.