|Photo: Benton County, Washington|
|Gotta love Sheriff Steve Keane for speaking truth to power.|
‘Put the money where the problem is’
~ Sheriff Steve Keane
From time to time, a public servant says something so obviously true, so resonantly sensible, that it’s startling. Yes, it’s kind of sad that we’re startled by the truth, but it’s also great that there are people out there willing to lay it on the line.
Today’s hero is Steve Keane, sheriff of Benton County, Washington.
In a lunch meeting with Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, when the subject of controlling gang violence came up, Sheriff Keane told the A.G. it’d be nice if some money set aside for marijuana eradication could be used for gang prevention so they can “put the money where the problem is,” reports Paula Horton of the Tacoma News Tribune.
“It’s getting to the point where so much of our resources are spent dealing with that issue and a place to put them in juvenile [detention],” the sheriff said. “I wonder how much longer it’s going to be before it gets out of hand.”
|Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna thinks fighting healthcare reform is a “states’ rights” issue — but he seems completely unwilling to defend the state’s medical marijuana law|
Attorney General McKenna, a Republican who claims to be a “states’ rights conservative” yet can’t muster up the cojones to defend his state’s medical marijuana law against the federal government, apparently didn’t offer any memorable or worthwhile response to the sheriff’s excellent suggestion.
McKenna has been notoriously hostile to medical marijuana patients and providers in the state, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of Washington’s voters approved a compassionate medicinal cannabis law 13 years ago, back in 1998.
The attorney general has been severely neglectful of his duties in making sure Washington’s medical marijuana law is properly enforced to protect the rights of those suffering from “debilitating or terminal illnesses” (that’s the language of the law) who are eligible to use marijuana with a doctor’s authorization.
The attorney general apparently believes part of his “law and order” street cred involves trampling the rights of medical marijuana patients and ignoring abuses of them by both federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents — as recently happened in Spokane — and by avaricious and hostile local law enforcement who still seem to be in denial that medical marijuana is legal in Washington.
The unconcern with which McKenna’s office regards the rights of medical marijuana patients goes beyond mere neglect. McKenna has, in fact, allowed some ugly things to happen to patients in Washington, and that’s why Seattle political site Horse’s Ass has decried his “war on the sick.”
“Here in Washington, our state law enforcement officials should be following the voter initiative passed in 1998 (and the follow-up legislation from 2007), not the Federal law,” wrote Horse’s Ass scribe Lee Rosenberg. “Unfortunately, our attorney general doesn’t seem to agree. Rob McKenna’s office has been trying to undermine Washington state’s medical marijuana law.”
“Attorney General Rob McKenna is one of the most vocal anti-marijuana zealots elected to public office in Washington State,” said Ben Livingston, spokesman for Cannabis Defense Coalition (CDC), a patient advocacy group headquartered in Seattle.
“His office is largely responsible for the ridiculous Department of Corrections policy on medical marijuana use by parolees,” Livingston said. “And he frequently takes time to spew federal anti-drug propaganda about marijuana’s increased potency being of such concern that we should ‘stay the course’ on the government’s war on marijuana.”
Rob McKenna doesn’t work for the federal government. He’s the top law enforcement officer in Washington state. Why does he have such a problem protecting and enforcing Washington’s medical marijuana law?
Apparently the office of attorney general isn’t enough to contain the talents of this ineffective buffoon. McKenna has now announced a gubernatorial bid for 2012.