Initiative 502 is the most interesting campaign I’ve covered in 17 years as a reporter because the politics of marijuana legalization — at least this year, in this state – upend conventional political wisdom.
I-502 has support from the right, such as from GOP Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner, and fierce opposition from medical marijuana activists. Many police and treatment providers are vocal in their rejection of the ballot measure, but not all: The two candidates for King County sheriff seem to be racing to see who can embrace legalization more.
The strange-bedfellows theme can be seen in newspaper endorsements, too. The Seattle Times Editorial Board today added to its previous endorsements for legalization. The editorial board does have some company, even in more conservative Eastern Washington. Here’s a round-up of editorials, for and against, from around the state:
The News Tribune of Tacoma foresees teens who don’t use marijuana now because it is illegal, but would if I-502 passes. No on I-502.
The Daily World in Aberdeen seems open to the idea, but not while the state has “other fish to fry.” No on I-502.
The Olympian doesn’t buy the tax-revenue estimates, but says the time is now to pressure Congress to end marijuana prohibition. Yes on I-502.
The Yakima Herald-Republic stands “on the public-safety side” and disbelieves that legalization would end Eastern Washington’s illegal grows. No on I-502.
The Tri-City Herald seems on the fence, but doesn’t want Washington to be the test case. No on I-502.
The Wenatchee World finds marijuana prohibition to be “one of the most ineffective and misguided efforts in our history.” Yes on I-502.
The Spokesman-Review of Spokane wants to end the “costly, irrational yoke of prohibition.” Yes on I-502.