The former U.S. district attorney who prosecuted B.C. marijuana activist Marc Emery in a cross-border sting is calling for the legalization and taxation of pot in Canada and the U.S.
John McKay, a former U.S. attorney for the western district of Washington State, was joined by Emery's wife Jodie and former B.C. Attorney General Geoff Plant at a lecture in Vancouver on Wednesday.
McKay said he did not regret prosecuting Emery because he broke U.S. law, but he believes the war on pot has been a complete and total failure. He said the laws keeping pot illegal no longer serve any purpose, but allow gangs and cartels to generate billions in profits.
"I want to say this just as clearly and as forthrightly as I can, marijuana prohibition, criminal prohibition of marijuana is a complete failure," McKay said.
McKay said marijuana, like alcohol, should be produced and sold to adults by the government, and that would generate at least half a billion dollars in revenue annually in Washington State alone.
More importantly, he said, ending prohibition would end the violent reign of gangs and drug cartels who are profiting from the situation. He said any prohibition in society requires broad support from the population, and that isn't the case with marijuana.
The appearance was organized by Stop the Violence BC, a coalition of high-profile academic, legal, law enforcement and health experts, which is working to reduce crime and public health problems stemming from the prohibition on marijuana.
The group includes several former B.C. attorneys general, several former Vancouver mayors, a former B.C. premier and a former RCMP superintendent for the province.
McKay, a Republican, was a U.S. Attorney from 2001 to 2007, when he resigned or was fired along with eight other U.S attorneys by President Bush.
He is now a professor in the faculty of law at Seattle University and an avid supporter of the Washington State ballot initiative for the November election to implement a regulated, taxed market for marijuana.
Marc Emery remains in prison in the U.S., serving a five-year sentence for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana through his mail-order cannabis seed business.