Former US Drug Warrior Wants To Change Pot Laws

CANNABIS CULTURE – The Former US Attorney known for his efforts to extradite pot activist Marc Emery to the United States is now calling for a reassessment of US marijuana policy.

Former US Attorney for the Western District of Washington John McKay was the original Drug Warrior targeting Marc for extradition to the US and is featured prominently in this 60 Minutes episode about Marc (watch below) calling the seed-seller and CC publisher “the biggest purveyor of marijuana from Canada into the United States”.

“We have a huge regional, national and international issue here in the growing of marijuana in lower British Columbia,” McKay said. “That’s a major problem for us. His activities are kind of at the leading edge of that marijuana problem. That’s the thing that really concerns us.”

McKay was one of eight US officials fired by Alberto Gonzales and the Bush administration in a 2006 attorney dismissal scandal.

We wonder if the Prince of Pot’s message may have rubbed off a little…

Ex-US Attorney: Time to Change Pot Laws

by Levi Pulkkinen, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Three years ago, former U.S. Attorney John McKay was somewhere near the front lines of the nation’s drug war.

Directing federal prosecutions in Western Washington before he was fired in 2006 by the administration that appointed him, McKay’s office sent marijuana smugglers and farmers to prison on decade-long terms. It indicted a loudmouth Canadian pro-pot activist for selling cannabis seeds by mail order.

So the crowd at an Edmonds auditorium could have been forgiven its surprise on Monday when McKay stood on stage with travel author and decriminalization advocate Rick Steves and declared that, of course, he is “against stupid laws.”

“I think there has to be a shift in the paradigm,” said McKay, now a professor at Seattle University. “The correct policy change would be a top-to-bottom review of the nation’s drug laws.”

McKay joined a panel as part of an effort by Steves and the American Civil Liberties Union to, in their view, return rationality to discussions about the nation’s drug laws. They were joined there by Egil “Bud” Krogh, a former official in the Nixon White House who gained notoriety during the Watergate scandal, and state Rep. Mary Helen Roberts, an Edmonds Democrat who joked Monday about being dubbed by her colleagues the “Marijuana Queen of Northwest Washington” for her efforts on medical marijuana law reform.

While the panelists did not agree on all points, each said they see the need for substantive change in the way marijuana is regulated and offenders are punished. They also each spoke about the fears, or lack of courage, of elected officials in addressing issues surrounding the drug.

Steves and the ACLU launched the initiative last year partly as a response to that fear. The effort, built around an infomercial “Marijuana: It’s Time for a Conversation,” is aimed at encouraging citizens to discuss the issue openly.

“This is an issue that’s scary for people,” Steves said. “I have friends who oppose what I do on this issue because they’re worried about their kids. What they don’t understand is that so are we.”

Addressing the audience, a group mixed in age and outward appearance, Roberts argued that the law as it stands takes an unjust toll on minority communities. In essence, she said, it leaves law enforcement agencies to pursue people who are easiest to catch while their efforts could be more productively spent elsewhere.

At the same time, she said, lawmakers — even those who believe the laws to be unjust with regard to marijuana — are afraid of being branded soft on crime.

“As a community and a society, we’re afraid of crime,” Roberts said. “And if what you’re doing is being referred to as ‘soft on crime,’ even without details, legislators respond negatively to it.”

Roberts also said the Legislature must revisit the state’s medical marijuana law, which, in her view, fails to adequately protect patients.

McKay, though, said such changes fail to address the larger problems with marijuana laws in the country.

Even as the Obama administration has adopted medical marijuana rules similar to those he advocated while U.S. Attorney — specifically, that federal agents not interfere with state medical marijuana regulations — McKay said that simply having federal agencies ignore the laws enacted by Congress does not go far enough.

“Federal law makes the possession of any amount of marijuana a crime,” McKay said. “So, even if you’ve got a certificate from your doctor, a federal officer could arrest you. – That’s just bad policy.”

McKay faulted Congress for failing to take initiative on the issue. It is not the place of federal prosecutors or law officers to make policy, he said, nor should the White House go it alone.

In the end, he argued, marijuana should not be lumped in with cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin as part of the war on drugs. Marijuana law, McKay said, “should look a lot more like alcohol (regulations) and a lot less like cocaine and methamphetamine (laws).”

– Article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on November 16, 2009.



  1. tax paying citizen on

    the guy had to go there to see how fucked up things really are. we know that a lot/most people in this country, have been lied to and made to believe that all drugs(except pharms?!)are bad bad bad, and that all users are nothing but degenerate criminals. mainstream media should cover more instances of lives being destroyed as a direct result of the war on drugs. everybody needs to see first hand, the soldiers in black terrifying children to trauma, shooting innocent people and family pets.i believe a lot of people are just plain unaware of the crappy details. we need guys like this to represent this issue. honestly, middle america will take this guy much more seriously than say tommy chong(no offense tommy!!!). let the guy help. it’s better than a lame apology when a person is willing to not only admit when they were wrong, but will go the extra distance to try and make it right.
    i know a lot of the more heinous crimes against innocent people just can’t be forgiven. so the bottom line is that things need to change. ironically this guy is now a part of that process. welcome aboard…

  2. Brad in Oz on

    Here, here.
    Finally someone’s hit the nail on the head:

    We (pro-law change minded individuals) should NEVER accept ANY opinion put forward by a peron in the law enforcement estabolishment as anything more than anyone elses opinion (which don’t get aired by the media as “fact” from some sort of all-knowing expert on the streets).

    Their job is to ENFORCE the law, not constantly make BLOODY IGNORANT and BIASED statements to the media regarding the pharmacology or practical effects of illicit drugs in our society.
    After-all ask any cop, DA, judge etc…about a few details regarding ANY illict drug and I bet they start fumbling (with accuracy) after a sentence or two; shit I bet the average cop can’t spell methamphetamine or methaqualone, let alone know the differences in pharmacology or the REAL risks (not the hysteria repeated ad-nauseum).


  3. jodie on

    are all people who have renounced the drug war they were once ardent advocates and enforcers of.

    The only way we can win is to have our enemies reconsider and then join us in the fight for individual liberty.


  4. greg williams on

    Being angry and being persecuted by others when they are ” just following orders” is a hard thing to forgive.
    I forgive this man for doing what he did to Marc and others.
    We have to forgive him in order to move forward.., or, thats whay i believe.

    It sounds like he no longer wants to be our enemy and imo we should embrace any person that doesnt want to be our enemy. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth will eventually leave us with a blind toothless world.

    I’m not saying that you shouldnt be angry. I am angry. I am saying that we can use our anger as a tool that works for us instead of against us or others.

    I am very happy that this person has changed his mind. Now, lets embrace him and get him to work with us in changing the minds that IMO need changing.

    Who better to have on our side than someone who can stand up and say..” i was on the other side and i saw the harm and pain and destruction caused by my denial, following the orders of people who didnt have the publics best intersts in mind”

    Lets show this dude some love. Love is and always will be the solution.

    I dont want to be your enemy anymore
    I dont want to fuss and fight
    Open up your arms and even up the score
    ‘Cause i dont want to be your enemy anymore

    -will kimbrough

  5. BG on

    Like it or not, this is where the bandwagon starts picking up some unlikely passengers…many that we have despised for years and many that We never would have geussed would come out on this issue….we are all proud of the strong stance we’ve taken on this issue for YEARS…but it may be time to put pride on the back burner and understand that some of these people, regardless of the ignorant scum they’ve shown themselves to be in the past, are the exact influance we need to tip the scales…things are taking on a strange new appearance, and anyone who oposses is the enemy of sense and reason….the seed was planted and grew strong,we’ve entered the 12 hour light cycle ….soon enough brethren, we WILL harvest the fruits of our labor… until then-“No mercy is the one command”

  6. Lygeia on

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but doing so anyway, John McKay’s conversion is remniscent of Saul of Tarsus experiencing an illumination of consciousness on the road to Damascus.

    I would ask that some of the posters here be thankful that Mr. McKay has evolved his position on this issue.

  7. Anonymous on

    WHY??… Whould anyone in this movement EVER!! listen to what such a head fuck up cop like this?? Why listen to someone who from the start was fuck up in thinking and now behind the cruve finnly get it!?! That show how NON LEADERSHIP you canadian clown are!! You dont use the words of the enemy to prove your point?? HE was and always will be the enemy! Get it beitish slaves!! Quit putting up what COPS HAVE TO SAY!! WE are ALL sick of what they have to say! But then again your NOT the CANNABIS LEADER ANTMORE!! By the way when was he really? A failed plan refeckes the person, think it threw better marc the british slave nice going there prince boy? goverment 4 marc 0

  8. Mike on

    Its really to bad that he hadnt realized he was a fuckin idiot until he left office.

  9. Anonymous on

    I have absolutely no respect for this asshole.
    Sure he’s speaking out against these rediculous
    laws now, but where were these views that he has
    now when he was destroying lives of families while
    he was in office. putting parents in jail for years,
    giving these children away to foster care. i’ll
    tell you were he was, he was bending over taking
    it up the pie hole. “I’m just doing my job” fuck you

  10. Anonymous on

    lets just hope the US government doesn’t decide to make an example out of him and hit him hard with 25 years, still he will be out in less than 5..

  11. Anonymous on

    You are my enemy today and tomorrow you’ll be my friend..

  12. Anonymous on

    I can’t be sure how but I bet this guy can tell us. Someone on the inside should ask this guy what he can do for Marc Emery, considering he helped get Marc into this mess.

  13. Chuck Winnipeg on

    Can anyone else feel that this whole issue is about to irreversibly tip over in our favour? Someone of influence speaks out against prohibition on a constantly ongoing basis.
    Our Government would have to know that a great debate is going on in the US, and that sending Marc south would wrong given the current climate.

    Its tipping, how do we get even more shoulder into it?