Governor-elect Jay Inslee held a press conference today to announce his transition team—an impressive crew: Microsoft exec Brad Smith (a maxed-out donor to Inslee's former rival Rob McKenna, by the way); WSU President Dr. Elson Floyd; and Renton School District Superintendent Alice Heuschel).
However, the press treated the event more like a chance to do a Q&A with the governor-to-be, and took advantage of the access to ask all sorts of big policy questions. How was he going to balance the budget without new revenue (my question at the press coference)? And how was he going to save the ferry system?
And, of course, how was he going to deal with I-502, the pot legalization measure that voters passed last Tuesday?
It's funny to hear Inslee—who was against the measure, but surely benefited from the liberal turnout— talk about pot. The guy is an admitted square. (In an Inslee profile I wrote for the magazine, I asked Inslee—who came of age during the late-60s—about that notorious era. He told me: “I did have the scraggliest beard at the University of Washington, probably, but I was not part of the drug scene. And I, incredibly, to my great, great dissatisfaction, didn’t enjoy the music.... We had the biggest musical explosion since Beethoven took his first music lesson, and I wasn’t part of that.”)
Here's what he said today about the state's plan to license, sell, and tax pot, much like former state-run liquor stores:
My belief is Washington has worked its will. The voters have spoken. I was not supportive of the initiative but I’m going to be fully supportive of protecting, defending, and implementing the will of the voter—which will essentially allow the use of recreational marijuana in our state.
So I will be working to a very rational, mature ways to convince the [Obama] administration that it's in the best interest, not only of our state, but in our country, to allow our state to move forward in this regard.
And I believe that makes sense for the country for this reason: We have a principal of federalism in our country that has worked well. We’ve allowed states to be incubators of new ideas of, and I think it’ll serve the nation well to allow the state of Washington and Colorado to serve as incubators of a new policy. And I don’t think there’s any reason that that’s antithetical to national security or interstate commerce. This is a local decision of a local state, and we’re going to do everything we can in this administration in that regard and hopefully that’ll happen. I think there’s some positive signs that we’ll be able to prevail…….
I don’t want to be too optimistic about this but my sense is there’s an honest consideration going on in the administration. My sense is we probably won’t have a clear cut answer to that for some time, but I look at that as a good sign. I’m going to look at that as a glass-half-full here. I have not communicated with the administration. It’s a gut check, glass-half-full, the door remains open to allow our state to look forward as we have in so many ways.