It was an amazing sight. The U.S. prosecutor responsible for sending Canada’s Prince of Pot, Marc Emery, to a federal penitentiary was sitting beside Emery’s wife, Jodie.
Even more surprising, John McKay was there to advocate for the legalization of marijuana.
McKay, the top federal prosecutor in Washington state for five years and now a law professor, believes continuing to treat marijuana users as criminals has only enriched drug-trafficking gangs and fueled violence.
“As a person who is knowledgeable of the facts underlying our failure in marijuana prohibition, I am free now to speak out,” McKay told a public forum in Vancouver, The Canadian Press reported.
After a long legal battle and a complex legal negotiation, cannibis-legalization advocate Marc Emery was extradited to the United States and jailed in 2010 for operating a cross-border marijuana-seed mail order business. He’s serving a five-year term in a Mississippi federal prison.
McKay said he has no regrets for prosecuting Emery, which he said was his duty. Emery made a “tremendous mistake” by breaking the law to try and change it, he said.
“If that was Mr. Emery’s purpose — to change policy — I think he chose the wrong path,” he said, according to the Vancouver Sun. “We do share, I think, a belief that the underlying policies are wrong.”
Criminal marijuana prohibition is “a complete failure,” McKay said.
“The problem posed by the vast criminal marijuana black market is a threat to public safety both in the United States and Canada,” he said. “It’s time to rethink our criminalization and prohibition policy.”
McKay’s position bolsters the push in British Columbia to reform Canadian pot laws.
Four former B.C. attorneys general, several former mayors of Vancouver, along with senior police officers and public-health officials have recommended treating marijuana use as a health issue, like alcohol.
The Canadian Press said Jodie Emery welcomed McKay’s support.
“I don’t believe my husband should be in prison, I still miss him terribly,” she said. “But I understand that this law, the prohibition of marijuana, forces police to continue to arrest people and put them in prison.
“When we get people who are on the frontlines, who saw the damage done, admit the policy needs to be changed, I think that’s always a wonderful thing.”
One of the arguments against decriminalizing pot in Canada is that it would damage relations with the United States. But McKay rejected that argument and pointed out things are changing south of the border.
Washington and Colorado have ballot initiatives in the November election asking voters if they agree to legalize possession of an ounce or less of pot for adult use, The Canadian Press reported.
McKay, a co-sponsor of the Washington initiative, said tax proceeds from pot sales in the state could reach $500 million, money that would be earmarked for education, treatment and enforcement to keep the drug out of the hands of minors.
Another 14 states are moving to decriminalize pot possession while 16 states and the District of Columbia already allow medical marijuana use.
But in Canada the government’s position has, if anything, hardened.
Ottawa has toughened the law related to pot possession and sale, even though Prime Minister Stephen Harper conceded this week the war on drugs has failed.
“I think what everybody believes and agrees with, and to be frank myself, is that the current approach is not working, but it is not clear what we should do,” he said at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Columbia, CBC News reported.
– Article from Yahoo News.