The Stranger has learned that immediately after the Seattle Times ran an editorial last week supporting a bill to tax and regulate marijuana, the newspaper got a phone call from Washington, D.C. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy director Gil Kerlikowske wanted to fly to Seattle to speak personally with the paper's full editorial board.
The meeting is scheduled for next Friday, an apparent attempt by the federal government to pressure the state's largest newspaper to oppose marijuana legalization. Or at least turn down the volume on its new-found bullhorn to legalize pot.
Bruce Ramsey, the Seattle Times editorial writer who wrote the unbylined piece, says the White House called right “right after our editorial ran, so I drew the obvious conclusion… he didn’t like our editorial.”
“MARIJUANA should be legalized, regulated and taxed,” the newspaper wrote on February 18. “The push to repeal federal prohibition should come from the states, and it should begin with the state of Washington."
This isn't the first time the Obama Administration has campaigned to keep pot illegal. Kerlikowske, who is also Seattle's former police chief, also traveled to California last fall to campaign against Prop 19, a measure to decriminalize marijuana and authorize jurisdictions to tax and regulate it.
Is the Seattle Times the more reticent to speak up? Apparently not. It ran another pro-pot editorial in today’s paper.
Kerlikowske's office has not yet responded to a request for comment.
UPDATE: I've updated this post (with a strike through) to indicate that Kerlikowske didn't fly to Seattle solely to lobby the Seattle Times. He had another meeting here, it turns out. But, again, the Seattle Times believes it's "obvious" that he requested the meeting because of the editorial and Kerlikowske office didn't return requests to comment before this was posted.