As Matt Driscoll noted yesterday, the debate over pot legalization Initiative 502 has been so insular that it's easy to forget about all the other people who might be weighing in on the issue. Take King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. In the past couple years, he's proved a liberal voice on medical marijuana.
*See also: Pot Mama
When the big argument in town was whether medical marijuana dispensaries should be legal, Satterberg opined in the affirmative. "If marijuana has a medical value, then we should treat it like medicine," he told Seattle Weekly for our 2010 cover story on dispensary owner Steve Sarich. "Patients should be allowed to get it in a safe place."
But that doesn't mean he's ready to see pot distribution legalized among the general public, even if he does spend his spare time in a "screaming" rock band. Unlike his counterpart at the city level, Pete Holmes, or the candidates for King County Sheriff, Satterberg has not conveyed support for I-502. And, judging by comments made to Seattle Weekly, he probably won't.
"Like a lot of people, I am conflicted over the issue," he says. He explains in an e-mail:
If marijuana is legal and more readily available then it is quite likely that more people will use it more often, which will not be an overall benefit to our community. (My 20-year old son responded to my observation by saying, "More people your age will use it, Dad, people my age already know where to get it.")
On the other hand, we know that when there is widespread demand for a product that is prohibited by law that this is an invitation to lawlessness, violence, and criminal profiteering. It also fuels overall disrespect for the law when there is no longer a vast majority of the people who support one part of the law. I am mindful too of the negative and disparate impact upon people who have been convicted for participating in marijuana activities, and know that they represent only a tiny percentage of the people who actually grow, sell and consume it.
So how will he vote? Interestingly, Satterberg is not telling. "I will vote in private" is all he'll say.
Of course, there are far more conservative voices in law enforcement than Satterberg. Don Pierce, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, has come out against I-502. Yet, he has not led a concerted opposition campaign, leaving that to Sarich and other marijuana activists who feel that the initiative is too restrictive.
As the campaign nears its final stretch, the question is who else might weigh in.