Snohomish County prosecutor candidate supports marijuana legalization

EVERETT — The man who would be Snohomish County’s next prosecuting attorney wants to legalize marijuana for adults.

Jim Kenny today endorsed Initiative 1068, which would legalize marijuana use, possession and cultivation. He’d previously made clear his support for decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana, and recently supported a broader call for decriminalization of pot on his campaign Website.

Kenny said he’s repeatedly heard from voters who are in support of legalizing marijuana.

“Our country has been waging a war on drugs for over 40 years and its exorbitant costs can be measured in dollars and in human lives. At some point elected officials need to say ‘Enough is enough,’” Kenny said in a press release.

The statewide committee backing I-1068 also put out a press release on Kenny’s announcement.

“It’s flattering to be endorsed by a candidate for public office, especially one involving law enforcement,” said Philip Dawdy, the initiative’s campaign director and an initiative co-author.

The initiative group said Kenny is the first candidate for public office to endorse the initiative. Backers still are gathering signatures to place the measure on the ballot.

Kenny is an assistant Seattle city prosecutor who handles misdemeanor cases. He’s running against Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe, a career deputy prosecutor who was picked for the job in the fall by the county council.

Both men are Democrats.

Precinct officers for the Democratic Party last fall selected Kenny as their top choice to fill the position left open after former county prosecutor Janice Ellis stepped down to take a job with the Tulalip Tribes.

Roe said it is “extremely simplistic” to believe that legalizing marijuana would lead to significant costs savings for the county or the elimination of social ills. Prosecuting cases involving small amounts of marijuana already is a low priority in Snohomish County, he said. Meanwhile, alcohol and prescription pain medication are legal substances, but misuse of both contribute to crime problems, he said.

“Prosecutors enforce laws. we don’t make them or repeal them,” Roe said. “If voters or legislators repeal laws on marijuana we will stop prosecuting marijuana cases.”

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