Newspaper and Government Official to Feud Over Marijuana Legalization?

March 3rd, 2011

Recent pro-marijuana legalization articles in the Seattle Times are drawing both praise and controversy from readers, says an article in today’s issue of The Stranger. These editorial articles come as a surprise to readers as the Seattle Times has been known to publish very anti-legalization pieces. The Stranger commends the Seattle Times on their change of mind, but the White House seems to have had a different response. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, contacted editorial page editor Ryan Blethen to schedule a personal meeting with the paper’s entire board of editors.

While the meeting has yet to happen (it is scheduled for Friday, March 4), it is clear that the Seattle Times articles are causing a spark at the White House. “I drew the obvious conclusion,” said Bruce Ramsey, the editorial writer who wrote one of the articles in question. “He [Kerlikowske] didn’t like our editorial.”

Marijuana legalization is an increasingly popular topic of debate; the opinions of many major political and media figures seem to be of one extreme or the other. Disagreement is natural — but how can we find a middle ground? That may not be possible, hinted Blethen. When asked if the paper would back down under pressure, he said, “I doubt it. We don’t have any plans to.”

As for the popular newspaper’s sudden change of opinion on the issue of marijuana legalization, Blethen explains: “I like to think that as an editorial page, we are open to changing our minds on issues, and this is one where the thinking of the board has changed.”

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