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Marijuana legalization debate produces unusual alliances

The debate over legalizing marijuana in Washington is producing some unusual alliances. At a legislative hearing Wednesday, lawmakers heard from the wife of Canada's so-called "Prince of Pot." And from the former federal prosecutor who indicted him.

Just before the hearing started, a strange scene unfolded. Jodie Emery, wife of imprisoned marijuana seed seller Marc Emery, approached former U.S. Attorney John McKay:

"I want to let you know that I thank you for taking the stand you have."

Emery was thanking the man who signed her husband's indictment. Today, McKay is a vocal critic of marijuana prohibition. He says it's a failed policy that's leading to gangland violence on the U.S.-Mexico border:

"We absolutely do have blood on our hands. And it's created by the demand for marijuana which has been criminalized by the government."

McKay and Emery testified before Washington's House Budget committee in favor of decriminalizing cannabis. A proposal in the legislature to sell marijuana in state liquor stores has died. But backers aren’t giving up.

They're selling it as a way to raise new money for the state's ailing budget. Opponents include Washington’s police chiefs and sheriffs.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.