October 4, 2012
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A Seattle sheriff's race seems to ride on which candidate is soft on drug ... legalization. In interviews with Seattle-based alt weekly the Stranger, the two candidates try to outdo each other in declaring their commitment to I-502, an initiative that would legalize -- and tax -- the retail sale of pot.
"As the sheriff, I don't think it is a problem for public safety if we legalize it because that will provide a supported, understood law that we can enforce," the King County sheriff told the Stranger.
His opponent, John Urquhart, criticized the current sheriff for not going far enough.
"Strachan talked about clarifying the law," Urquhart said. "The reason I am for legalization is not to clarify the law. I am saying that, morally, it should be legal," reports the paper.
Former cops have made strong drug reform advocates before, building the case for legalization on the horrors they've witnessed and performed as soldiers in the drug war. Still, a 24-year-law enforcement veteran smearing his opponent for not supporting drug legalization with enough enthusiasm is significant. As the paper points out, "Just a few years ago, the former King County sheriff was using his bully pulpit to fight legalization."
This is Seattle, not Kansas, but the pro-pot tenor of the race reflects national trends in public opinion. A poll taken last May found that only 36 percent opposed legalizing pot
and regulating it like tobacco and alcohol. 56 percent took a pro-legalization stance.
Sadly, the federal government is not on board, continuing crackdowns on medical marijuana dispensaries in states where medical pot is legal. Meanwhile, the drug war continues to ruin, and end, lives in America and around the world. The Drug Policy Alliance has collected some jarring facts about the consequences of the failed policies. Here are a few:
1. Amount spent annually in the U.S. on the war on drugs: More than $51,000,000,000
3. Number of those charged with marijuana law violations who were arrested for possession only: 750,591 (88 percent)
4. Number of Americans incarcerated in 2009 in federal, state and local prisons and jails: 2,424,279 or 1 in every 99.1 adults, the highest incarceration rate in the world
5. Fraction of people incarcerated for a drug offense in state prison that are black or Hispanic
, although these groups use and sell drugs at similar rates as whites: 2/3
6. Number of murders
in 2010 in Juarez, Mexico, the epicenter of that country’s drug war: 3,111, the highest murder rate of any city in the world