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Nov 13 2012

WA Marijuana Law Helps People Immediately

This is very cool news. After the state of Washington passed a referendum last week to decriminalize marijuana, two county prosecutors have dropped charges against more than 200 people who were facing misdemeanor marijuana possession charges.

King and Pierce County prosecutors are dismissing more than 220 misdemeanor marijuana cases in response to Tuesday’s vote to decriminalize small amounts of pot.

In King County, 175 cases are being dismissed involving people 21 and older and possession of one ounce or less. I-502 makes one ounce of marijuana legal on Dec. 6, but King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg decided to apply I-502 retroactively.

“Although the effective date of I-502 is not until December 6, there is no point in continuing to seek criminal penalties for conduct that will be legal next month,” Satterberg said in a statement…

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said he was dismissing “about four dozen” pending cases where misdemeanor marijuana was the only offense. He said his staff was continuing to prosecute other cases where possession was secondary to a more serious charge, such as drunken driving.

“The people have spoken through this initiative,” said Lindquist. “And as a practical matter, I don’t think you could sell a simple marijuana case to a jury after this initiative passed.”

That’s great news not only for the people charged, but also for the taxpayers who will no longer foot the bill for such pointless prosecutions.

13 comments

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  1. 1
    ReneeHendricks

    This is one very awesome outcome of the initiative. The only thing I worry about is the inevitable fed step-in next year. We all know it’s going to happen. I’m not a marijuana user – meaning, it’s been many years since I’ve partaken. But I can see the appeal as someone who used to partake. Maybe we’ll start to be the exception here in WA. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

  2. 2
    theschwa

    Don’t worry, the feds will protect us from ourselves:

    Marijuana legalization victories could be short-lived:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/08/us-usa-marijuana-votes-idUSBRE8A705E20121108

    Well, I can think of one huge federal government agency that can be targeted in order to reduce the budget deficit.

  3. 3
    naturalcynic

    Awwww, gee, maybe Obama is going to go all federalist and leave WA and CO alone. One can dream.

  4. 4
    kingoftoasty

    I’d wager that Obama will promise to leave people in those states alone, then come down on them with the Federal Drug War Hammer of Doom +1. Cause ya know…That’s kind of his style.

  5. 5
    tubi

    Scanning right-wing radio earlier this week I heard an interesting theory from Jason Lewis. He suggests that conservatives should embrace the new state rules on drug use. It’s all about freedom, baby, states’ rights, man. And then start hammering that the same rules should apply to SSM. If states have the right to legalize pot, then they also have the right to define marriage.

    I almost got in an accident yelling at the radio about the 14th amendment and equal protection and how if the marijauna law only made it legal for married people to possess, or those with a college degree, or Jews only, or some other distinction that locks out people for no reason, then you might have something. Then I calmed down and switched over to Lite 94.5 and listened to the Carpenters for a while.

    But be prepared, I guess, for that kind of reasoning.

  6. 6
    eric

    @2 and @3 – IMO its still a significant change. There are a lot more state LE officers than federal ones, and a lot more state DAs than federal prosecutors. Shifting the responsibility solely on to the feds means fewer arrests, and may mean fewer prosecutions from the arrests the feds do make.

    It does put people in those states in the wierd position of having to worry about which cops pull them over, but the cynic in me says that was probably always tacitly the case.

  7. 7
    spamamander, internet amphibian

    @ eric

    Pretty much, since Seattle made marijuana arrests its “lowest priority” back around 2007. On my side of the state in hicksville though, it really didn’t matter what agency, since they pretty much all want to look badass by busting that guy with the half ounce of weed for personal use, while the gang shootings go on a few blocks over.

  8. 8
    Bronze Dog

    @tubi: I’m in much the same place. I’m in Texas and yesterday I overheard bits and pieces of a conversation that states’ rights, and I prepared myself for stupid. A lot of people out there love to treat human rights as alienable within our own national borders.

  9. 9
    democommie

    I was listening to Terry Grosse on Fresh Air at noon and she had someone on who was opining about how the cops would still have as much work to do as before because people would be smuggling CO weed to other jurisdictions (kinda sounds like bullshit to me) and that the taxes of 15-20% would be enough to keep people from buying legal pot at $3-400/oz (which sounds like complete fuckwaddery to me–why would pot cost $3-400/oz if it wasn’t FUCKING ILLEGAL to grow it?). It’s pretty obvious from the situation in CA that the feds are not interested in setting up stings for anyone not moving significant weight.

  10. 10
    Artor

    It’s cool that WA dismissed these pending charges, but it would be alot better if they released everyone currently serving sentences for possession. It must suck being in jail for something that is now perfectly legal.

  11. 11
    machintelligence

    why would pot cost $3-400/oz if it wasn’t FUCKING ILLEGAL to grow it?

    It doesn’t cost that much right now. MMJ is selling for $120 -$200 per ounce in Colorado. That is tax free, of course, but I see no reason legal pot would sell for significantly more. (It was around $400 years ago, but the price has obviously dropped.)

  12. 12
    jefferylanam

    I suspect the feds will still be after the growers on Federal land. As I think they should. I’ve come across pot patches off trail in county parks in California and others I know have had run-ins with growers in parks. Legalizing it isn’t going to stop people from using public land for their crops, unfortunately.

  13. 13
    democommie

    “And I’m guessing that the specific parts of America that voted against Obama aren’t all that different from what they were in 1965.”

    As stated previously, if it’s not illegal, why go to the trouble of using federal land to grow it?

    And if they’re going to use federal land let them pay the same kind of lease fees (next to nothing) that BigMeat pays to use the BLM’s acreage for grazing their cattle and sheep.

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