By Seattle Times Staff
A coalition that includes former U.S. Attorney John McKay, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and travel guide Rick Steves is launching an initiative that would legalize marijuana in Washington state.
The group, led by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, decided to push the initiative this spring after Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed most of a medical-marijuana bill that had passed the state Legislature.
"We did some more public-opinion research, looked at the numbers and said, 'Yeah, this is the time,' " said Alison Holcomb, campaign manager for the initiative and drug-policy director of the ACLU of Washington.
The initiative would regulate the recreational use of marijuana in a way similar to how the state regulates alcohol.
It would legalize marijuana for people older than 21, authorize the state Liquor Control Board to regulate and tax marijuana for sale in "stand-alone stores" and extend drunken-driving laws to marijuana, with blood tests to determine how much of the substance's active ingredient is present in a driver's blood.
Taxing sales would bring the state $215 million a year, conservatively estimated, Holmes said.
McKay, who spent five years enforcing federal drug laws as the U.S. attorney in Seattle before he was fired by the Bush administration in early 2007, said he hopes the initiative will help "shame Congress" into ending pot prohibition.