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You’d have to look pretty hard at a Thursday news story to realize that it serves as a glaring example of the failure of the anemic brand of cannabis “legalization” represented by I-502 in Washington state.

But once you do take a look, the realization dawns: This is what failed “legalization” looks like.

Local and federal law enforcement officers in Seattle announced the arrests of “more than 90 suspects” in a roundup to discourage street-corner drug deals in the downtown corridor around Third Avenue and Pine Street, reports Kyle Stokes at KPLU.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes<br>admitted that 40 of the suspects were arrested for selling marijuana in "legal" Washington []
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Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes
admitted that 40 of the suspects were arrested for selling marijuana in “legal” Washington


Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes — ironically, one of the most vocal and visible of supporters of I-502 — admitted that “nearly 40” of the arrested suspects were busted for selling marijuana in the area.

“This is illegal,” Holmes said, “and it’s not what I-502 promised.” You can say that again, Petey.

But wait, you may be thinking. Didn’t I-502 legalize pot sales in Washjington? No, Grasshopper; you can only sell weed if you’re one of the fortunate few with money to bribe officials, I mean invest in operations, and lucky enough to win the lottery drawing for one of the few licenses available in the state (all are currently taken).

But weren’t we told that legalization would basically upend the black market by providing a superior product at better prices? Guess that part’s not working so well; the onerous taxation scheme and overweening bureaucracy surrounding implementation of I-502’s brand of legalization has result in pot prices roughly twice to three times those on the street.

Of course, this being Seattle, officials rushed to emphasize that they didn’t intend the roundup to signal the re-ignition of the War On Drugs. Oh, no, sirree! Perish the very thought. There’s only still a War On Weed if you’re poor and unlicensed.

“We can achieve significant public safety gains city-wide by applying focused efforts in small hotspots,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said at a Thursday press conference.

“Although we know we are not going to arrest our way out of the drug addiction problem, this effort demonstrates that focused enforcement matters,” said acting U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes, apparently practicing the fine political art of sending mixed messages.

“I’ve supported ending the War On Drugs for my entire public service career,” City Attorney Holmes claimed, “and I’m pleased to stand with the Mayor, Police Chief, U.S. Attorney, FBI and County Prosecutor in furtherance of that goal,” he said, while doing the opposite.

While undercover officers were able to complete more than 170 buys of marijuana, cocaine, meth, heroin, and other drugs, leading to arrest warrants for more than 180 suspects, just 37 of them face federal drug or weapon charges. Many of the rest are eligible for drug court programs or cop-supervised diversion programs that connect them with housing and substance treatment.


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