Marijuana legalization debate produces unusual alliances

Mar 17, 2011

The debate over legalizing marijuana in Washington is producing some unusual alliances. At a legislative hearing Wednesday, lawmakers heard from the wife of Canada's so-called "Prince of Pot." And from the former federal prosecutor who indicted him.

Just before the hearing started, a strange scene unfolded. Jodie Emery, wife of imprisoned marijuana seed seller Marc Emery, approached former U.S. Attorney John McKay:

"I want to let you know that I thank you for taking the stand you have."

Emery was thanking the man who signed her husband's indictment. Today, McKay is a vocal critic of marijuana prohibition. He says it's a failed policy that's leading to gangland violence on the U.S.-Mexico border:

"We absolutely do have blood on our hands. And it's created by the demand for marijuana which has been criminalized by the government."

McKay and Emery testified before Washington's House Budget committee in favor of decriminalizing cannabis. A proposal in the legislature to sell marijuana in state liquor stores has died. But backers aren’t giving up.

They're selling it as a way to raise new money for the state's ailing budget. Opponents include Washington’s police chiefs and sheriffs.