Little Organized Opposition to Washington State Pot-Legalization Initiative


State police groups and their allies in the drug-treatment community have not created a political committee to raise money or buy advertising opposing Washington State’s marijuana-legalization initiative, the Seattle Times reports. Opposition is not a low-budget campaign; for law enforcement, it’s a no-budget campaign. The lack of organized opposition is notable against the well-funded I-502 campaign, with its big-name endorsers and $700,000 TV advertising buy. King County Sheriff Steve Strachan, who announced his support for I-502 this week, thinks he knows why Washington cops are quiet. “I can tell you, anecdotally, I’m not the only one who feels this way” in law enforcement, Strachan said. “One of the reasons you’re not seeing a large, organized opposition is there are a lot of differences of opinion in the law-enforcement community.”

His view is not universal: The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs voted to oppose I-502, fearing broadening drug use and easier access for youth. The group, which has restrictions on its political activities, has stayed silent, and the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, which is not restricted, has not weighed in. Fundraising against I-502 is challenging because its heavy excise tax on marijuana sales — projected to raise $560 million — earmarks funding for groups that traditionally oppose drug legalization. Campaign manager Alison Holcomb anticipated organized opposition but is pleasantly surprised to find little, which she attributes to I-502’s tight regulations, including a ban on marijuana possession for people under 21.

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