King County sheriff to travel to Washington D.C., to address marijuana laws

King County Sheriff John Urquhart will appear in Washington, D.C., next week before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee at its hearing called “Conflicts between State and Federal Marijuana Laws.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) announced the hearing months after Washington and Colorado legalized small amounts of marijuana for personal use, and only days before the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that it will not intervene in the states’ implementation of their respective laws.

“I supported I-502 last year because as a former narcotics detective, I can say with full confidence that the War on Drugs as been a failure,” said Urquhart in a Sheriff's Office media release. “There has to be a better way. And as far as marijuana is concerned, the citizens of Washington have decided legalization for personal use appears to be that ‘better way’. Law enforcement needs to respect their decision.”

Urquhart, who lives on Mercer Island, is the top law enforcement official in the nation’s largest local jurisdiction with legalized recreational marijuana. His testimony will focus on public safety priorities during and after the implementation of I-502. In addition, he will speak to issues not addressed by the DOJ decision, such as incongruous banking laws which will make legal marijuana sales a cash-only business.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole from the Department of Justice and Jack Finlaw, chief legal counsel to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper also will appear before the committee.

The hearing is Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 2:30 PM EDT in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building.

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