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. Harry Kermet

    Now that the election is over, I'm not inundated with Romney-this-and-Obama-that comments anymore... it feels great to read and contribute to these discussions again!

    November 10, 2012 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Epidi

      How about it – I can feel the love again! All the back biting & name calling was a real downer. *sigh!*

      November 10, 2012 at 3:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. Peter Q Wolfe

    Some of the most smartest people that I've known were pot heads or hippies or whatever, so let us not generalize right? Did you know that Mr Steve Jobs did cannabis or marijuana or whaever and look at what he happened to ultimately become? I'd like to also point out the conridiction that is reoccuring with conservatives with fiscal discipline and forced social moralities as being incompatability especially in lue of strained state and local government cuts in the downward economy for ways to limit government to a smaller size.

    November 10, 2012 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. James PDX

    What happended? Did you accidentally blow up your Ron Jeremy doll with helium and have nothing to do now that it flew away and left you?

    November 10, 2012 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. James PDX

    Nobody doubts that.

    November 10, 2012 at 2:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. malcolmkyle

    Prohibition has finally run its course: Our prisons are full, our economy is in ruins, the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans have been destroyed or severely disrupted. What was once a shining beacon of liberty and prosperity has become a toxic, repressive, smoldering heap of hypocrisy and a gross affront to fundamental human decency.

    Former and present Prohibitionists shall not be allowed to remain untainted and untouched by the unconscionable acts that they have viciously committed on their fellow citizens. They have provided us with neither safe communities nor safe streets. We will provide them with neither a safe haven to enjoy their ill-gotten gains nor the liberty to repeat such a similar atrocity.

    November 10, 2012 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
    • allenwoll

      malcolm - Possess and use as much of whatever (alcohol, pot, who cares) you wish -

      HOWEVER - Do a DUI, Public Intox, Domestic Violence, etc where persons or property are significantly impacted - Then you need to be given the option to be GONE, never to be seen again !

      Simple : NO filled prisons, NO Users, NO demand..

      November 10, 2012 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Jt_flyer

      Maybe someday I can grow hemp like our nations founding fathers did.

      November 10, 2012 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
    • memo2

      Do you know about the Government Control Program ?.

      November 10, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
    • xZENTIGERx


      November 10, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. bigfoot

    Trial by 10 million voters.

    November 10, 2012 at 3:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. heeey

    its much worse for a society to have a bunch of people running around who have been psychologically damaged from being exposed to prison.

    November 10, 2012 at 4:50 am | Report abuse |
    • sparta

      good point.

      November 10, 2012 at 6:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave in Indy

      Absolutely. The nation's "quiet" crisis.

      November 10, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jt_flyer

    The beginning of the end of the cartels.

    November 10, 2012 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
    • FreddyG

      Ive said the same thing for years

      November 10, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Len

      I'm all for legalization of marijuana, but I would not expect the cartels to go away. I believe there is such a thing as a criminal mind, that will always seek out ways of doing things outside the system.

      November 10, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jt_flyer

    This is the time for Obama to act. Federal Decriminalization! The beer, wine and sprints producers must be terrified!

    November 10, 2012 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Dude

      Totally false premise. People get high and drink beer.

      November 10, 2012 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Finally

      I think big pharmaceuticals and therapists have a lot more to worry about than the alcohol producing ones. It will only be a matter of time until people will start self medicating anxiety, stress, depression, etc with marijuana. Cheaper, more effective and likely safer then the garbage pharma's pill pushers prescribe.

      November 10, 2012 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. crazeelegs

    This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius–age of Aquarius-AQUARIUS. Let the sunshine in. :-Q

    November 10, 2012 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  11. The Realist

    What does the new law mandate for home-grown?

    Are citizens required to tax themselves?

    November 10, 2012 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
    • crazeelegs

      A new line on your 1040–"Have you grown any marijuana during the past year? If so, how many plants? Have you sold any this year? How much?"

      November 10, 2012 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. crazeelegs

    It's high time.

    November 10, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
  13. Syphor

    Still some brainwashing to undo. In reality thats like saying hunting leads to murder, beer leads to vodka, and aspirin lead to OxyCotin. Sure it happens sometimes but thats not the cause.
    Been smoking pot for 20 years and I function great. (yes I'm employed, always have been)

    November 10, 2012 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. crazeelegs

    Just think, in the year 2525, if man is still alive, marijuana will be legal everywhere. Even in the south–well, maybe.

    November 10, 2012 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ella

    Buncha hippies.

    November 10, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
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