10/23/2012 12:32 pm ET Updated Dec 22, 2012

Federal Drug Enforcement: A Clear and Present Danger

"'It's shocking,' said John Walters, the drug czar during the George W. Bush administration, calling the prospect of marijuana legalization a 'clear and present danger.'"

What Mr. Walters apparently finds "shocking" is that the Obama administration has chosen not to respond, at least not yet, to a September 7 letter signed by nine former DEA bosses nor to a similar appeal by Walters and four other former drug czars. They want Mr. Obama and Attorney General Holder to denounce marijuana legalization initiatives in Washington, Colorado, and Oregon.

As a Washington state voter I'd like to see this flock of Chicken Littles butt out and stop attempting to undermine the democratic process. Let us residents decide for ourselves how we want to approach marijuana policy.

Yes, the federal government trumps the states on drug laws--just as it did with alcohol during a similarly foolish prohibition run from 1920-1933. But as mounting impatience with the federal booze ban reached a tipping point, the state of New York openly defied the feds. Another state followed, then another and another. The country's 13-year "war on alcohol" was over. Drive-by shootings, drug overdoses (think bad bathtub gin), and other forms of prohibition-driven violence were virtually eliminated.

That's exactly what's happening now in the form of three states putting themselves on a collision course with the "other" Washington. The crash is long overdue.

The views of Mr. Walters and like-minded drug warriors represent the actual "clear and present danger" to the financial and security interests of the people of my state. For decades, these and other "reefer madness" disciples have spread fear, ignorance, and serial falsehoods about marijuana. Science has established that the weed is not a gateway drug, not a source of a single deadly side effect, not a substantial contributor to traffic fatalities. Indeed, the science tells us that marijuana is safer than alcohol, healthier than tobacco.

A majority of voters in my home state have said they want to see the war on marijuana ended. Initiative 502 would do just that.

It's probably too much to hope for in this presidential campaign: a debate moderator or either of the candidates addressing the very significant issue of marijuana law reform. But at least the president, in refusing to bow to the intimidation tactics of the drug enforcement industry, has paved the way for my state, and possibly others, to show the federal government a new way forward on marijuana policy.