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Rick Steves and Former U.S. Attorney Lead Effort to Legalize Pot

Steves and former U.S. Attorney John McKay are part of a group launching an initiative that would legalize marijuana in Washington state.

Travel guide and Edmonds resident Rick Steves has teamed up with former U.S. Attorney John McKay, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington to campaign for an initiative that would legalize marijuana in Washington state.

The initiative would allow people older than 21 to purchase a limited amount of marijuana. The state Liquor Control Board would have the authority to regulate and tax the drug. Initiative backers estimate marijuana taxes would bring the state $215 million a year.

The initiative would also set up drunk driving type tests for those suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana.

Backers of the proposal need to gather more than 240,000 signatures by the end of this year in order to send the iniative to the Legislature. The legislators then could approve it or send it to voters next year.

Steves has long been an advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana. In a blog on his web site, he explains his views on the topic and why he's taken up the cause.

McKay, in turn, said today's marijuana laws create a black market and encourage drug cartels. As the U.S. attorney in Seattle, McKay enforced federal drug laws in Seattle from 2002 to 2007.

The marijuana debate in this state has been contentious. Though the state legislature passed a medical marijuana bill earlier this year, Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed parts of it. She cited concerns that state workers could be prosecuted for marijuana distribution under federal law.

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