Wash. counties drop marijuana misdemeanor possession cases in light of vote
November 9th, 2012
08:19 PM ET

Wash. counties drop marijuana misdemeanor possession cases in light of vote

The prosecutor's offices for two Washington counties - including the one that contains Seattle - announced today they will dismiss 175 misdemeanor marijuana possession charges, days after the state's voters legalized the drug.

The dropped cases all involve arrests of individuals age 21 and older for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana.

Washington state voters passed Initiative 502 on Tuesday, thus legalizing and regulating the production, possession, and distribution of cannabis for people ages 21 and older.

The initiative is set to take effect December 6, though King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg decided to act before then.

"There is no point in continuing to seek criminal penalties for conduct that will be legal next month," Satterberg said in a news release.

The King County Sheriff's Office subsequently announced that, in light of the county prosecutor's decision, its deputies "will not be directed to arrest or charge individuals caught with one ounce or less of marijuana."

This decision affects efforts only in the unincorporated part of the county, with the sheriff's office noting that leaders in 12 municipalities in the county will decide how deputies act between now and December 6 in their locales.

Mark Lindquist, the prosecutor for Pierce County in Washington state, said his office will dismiss simple marijuana possession cases as well. But cases in which a person is charged with other crimes, in addition to marijuana possession, will still stand, Lindquist said.

The Washington referendum called for a 25% tax rate imposed on the product three times - when the grower sells it to the processor, when the processor sells it to the retailer, and when the retailer sells it to the customer.

It is one of two marijuana-related ballot initiatives that passed this week. Amendment 64 in Colorado will amend the state constitution to legalize and regulate the production, possession, and distribution of marijuana for persons ages 21 and older.

But Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper warned after his state's vote that it's too soon to "break out the Cheetos," because his state and presumably Washington state must still navigate federal laws before citizens can legally buy and sell cannabis.

And germane to the Washington and Colorado initiatives, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a statement Wednesday morning saying its "enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged."

"In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance," the DEA said. "The Department of Justice is reviewing the ballot initiatives, and we have no additional comment at this time."

soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. ironwolf56

    Notice how now that it's becoming monetarily and politically profitable to them, the government is changing its tune pretty quick on marijuana.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jules

    This is going to get really interesting. So many people like to speak up in favor of states rights, this is a great litmus test. Here is an example that does not violate anyone's civil rights, lets see if the federals whip up on the states that just legalized the weed.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bobcat (in a hat)©

    Wow, hippies. That's a word I haven't heard for about 35 years. Far out maaaan.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fubar

      Where in the article is the word "hippy" used? Say what you want about the 60s, they were on the right side of history in respect to the war in Vietnam.

      November 10, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Chancho

      hah fubar. great name!

      November 10, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Epidi

      Sounds like Bobcat's having a flashback lol. 😉

      November 10, 2012 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
  4. Verbert

    Just as when alcohol prohibition ended, there will be people who refuse to follow the new law, as we see in the case of the Spokane prosecutor.
    As to the DEA, there is currently a case regarding the Schedule 1 status of marijuana against the DEA's refusal to even consider any proof of medical efficacy.
    I would expect them to win against the DEA, but it would be better for Congress to reschedule it, since it sounds like they are the ones who made the original mistake in the first place...
    It has medical uses. Among other medical uses, it is a vasco-dilator (which produces the "head rush" and the "bloodshot eyes") which not only helps glaucoma patients in a non-toxic way, but could perhaps be used for people with circulatory problems – but all research is mostly refused to legitimate research insttutions – a "catch-22".

    November 9, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bobcat (in a hat)©

    I totally agree chrissy. Mar ja wanna smokers are some cool people. And it does you a whole bunch of da good.

    November 9, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bobcat (in a hat)©

    @ nativesong
    If you drink that firewater, you've got more brain death then they do. Fact

    November 10, 2012 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. bobcat (in a hat)©

    People who smoke that mary ja wanna are a whole lot nicer than those who drink alcohol are.

    November 10, 2012 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. LunchWithABear

    As a non-pot smoking, conservative, Christian resident of Pierce County who voted to legalize marijuana, I'm so happy that our tax dollars will no longer be spent dealing with these types of cases.

    November 10, 2012 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
    • stoller


      November 10, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  9. tnfreethinker

    Good call. Why wait a month to start saving resources better used elsewhere?

    November 10, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. stoller

    this is the best news i've heard in a week...

    November 10, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  11. USA! USA! USA!

    What ppl wanna smoke in their own home isn't the Fed's business. I say legalize it. And u say go states rights!

    November 10, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. financiallyenslaved

    Taxed three times at 25%? Wow. So what will the actual price be at the retailer? $75 an eighth?

    November 10, 2012 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      As long as it's cheaper than the street price, people will buy it because it's actually going to be quality controlled.

      November 10, 2012 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Epidi

      Will you be able to grow your own for one's own cunsumption like moonshine? Legal to make as long as you don't sell it. ?? I'd rather have my own quality control than risk what they'll do to it like cigarettes. All the chemicals & pesticides they put in them is awful...

      November 10, 2012 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
  13. John

    I say it is time to BREAK OUT THE CHEETOS!

    November 10, 2012 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  14. Lee Oates

    A rare moment of social sanity.

    November 10, 2012 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. Frank

    God bless America! I love my community.

    November 10, 2012 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
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