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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

October 1, 2012 at 7:46 PM

$1 million more for marijuana legalization campaign — and support from King County sheriff

The campaign to legalize recreational marijuana has received two new boosts: another $1 million in donations, and a vote of approval from King County Sheriff Steve Strachan.

The biggest donation to Initiative 502 came from Progressive Insurance founder and marijuana-legalization advocate Peter Lewis. His $670,000 donation last week brings his total contribution to $1.55 million, more than a third of I-502’s total contribution of nearly $4 million.

Those contributions allowed I-502 to buy about $700,000 in TV airtime the last week before the election, said campaign manager Alison Holcomb. Those ads will differ from I-502’s first round of TV ads, which featured a middle-aged woman who declared she “didn’t really like” marijuana, but that it was time for “a conversation” about legalizing it.

Strachan, who is running for election, said Monday he would vote for I-502, which would “bring clarity” to the conflicting state and federal laws regarding marijuana. “I think the current situation is bad for the rule of law, bad for the criminal justice system and and it sends a bad message to our kids.”

Strachan said he used to be a school resource officer, and knows that marijuana is easier for kids to get than alcohol.

“With alcohol being highly regulated,  we’re able to have a more reasonable discussion about it, in societies and in our families. If we treat marijuana like people are already informally treating it, you can make choices based on boundaries set by parents… (Currently) people are sort of winking at it. It lives it this kind of limbo –- its illegal, but also not. I think discussions will lead to better outcomes than the really ambiguous, confusing messages we’re sending to our kids.”

Strachan’s opponent, longtime Sheriff’s spokesman John Urquhart, previously endorsed I-502.

The only organized opposition to I-502 is by a group of medical marijuana patients and retailers. No on 502 has raised $5,760.

I-502 decriminalizes one-ounce possession of marijuana and creates a closed, state-licensed monopoly of marijuana growers and retailers. Its biggest funders, in addition to Lewis, include the New York-based marijuana reform group Drug Policy Action ($715,000), and James and Cody Swift, who are affiliated with Kirkland’s RiverStyx Foundation. They contributed a combined $300,000 late last month, bringing their contribution to $420,000.

Comments | More in homepage, Marijuana, Politics Northwest | Topics: initiative 502, king county sheriff steve strachan, marijuana

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