Two former top federal prosecutors star in a pair of ads supporting a Washington state ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana under Washington state law. The ads feature Kate Pflaumer, a Clinton appointee, and John McKay, a Bush appointee. Between the two of them, Pflaumer and McKay oversaw federal prosecutions in western Washington for fifteen years.
Both ads highlight the costs of spending limited federal resources on marijuana prosecution, and the fact that the referendum would strictly regulate marijuana sales. As McKay explains in one of the ads:
As the former chief federal prosecutor I enforced our marijuana laws. I’ve come to believe they don’t work. Filling our courts and jails has failed to reduce marijuana use, and drug cartels are pocketing all the profits. It’s time for a new approach. Initiative 502 brings marijuana under tight regulatory control, generates new revenue for education and prevention, and if we pass 502, we’ll have more resources to go after violent crime instead.
If the initiative passes, marijuana will be sold to adults over the age of 21 in state-licensed shops, and will be subject to taxation and inspection.
Pflaumer and McKay’s endorsement of this initiative is particularly significant given their role as former federal prosecutors. Although the overwhelming majority of marijuana prosecutions occur at the state level, federal law still prohibits marijuana and federal prosecutors retain the authority to prosecute recreational marijuana use. If a serious effort is ever mounted to repeal or reform federal marijuana laws, Plaumer and McKay could be powerful advocates for that effort.