Sheriff Candidates Fight Over Who Wants to Legalize Marijuana MORE: 7 Reasons They Are Right

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
2. Number of people arrested for a marijuana law violation in 2010: 853,838
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
7. Number of students who have lost federal financial aid eligibility because of a drug conviction: 200,000+

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.