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. Viviana Césped

    Reblogged this on PEDAGOGIA EN INGLES.

    November 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. pennsylvania sage

    Tourism will soar in both states.

    November 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Verona Jim

    Come on Obama do the right thing!

    November 9, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Greg Sheets

    Its about time

    November 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jocho Johnson

    Way to go Washington State

    November 9, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bill

    25% X 3?! They're just creating a market for illegal un-taxed pot.

    November 9, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • montyross

      therein lies the problem with a potheads reasoning, much like Oboma-care reducing healthcare cost.LOL

      November 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • LordofEntropy

      Much better than the current market for illegal untaxed pot that puts so many people in jail.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • dabble53

      Wondering if the grower sells directly to the consumer, does that mean only a single 25% tax?

      November 9, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jamal

      You do realize all marijuana is currently illegal and untaxed? By legalizing, taxing, and regulating it you will get a percentage of the sales of reported growers and you save millions from decriminalizing it. A small percentage of something is better than 100% of nothing.

      November 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jayman

    Hey Washington WEEEEEEEEEEE!

    November 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. groo

    I AM glad they're going to legalize. Not so glad about 3 separate 25% taxes. The Grower will pay a 25% tax at sale and raise the price to pay the tax, then the processor will pay it when selling to the retailer and raise the price 50% to cover taxes, and the retailer will already have to pay a 25% tax and they're of course going to stick that tax to the consumer along with the other 50%. Sort of encourages people to grow their own does it not?

    November 9, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ixion

      I think thats what will happen. You will see people start obtaining what ever license you'll need to grow it and then they will simply process it and use it themselves. OFC, Im guessing you will also have plenty of people growing it without the necessary permits, but I am trying to give people the benefit of the doubt.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • juniusgallio

      Unless I'm mistaken, I think the new Washington law allows for growing for personal consumption with no taxes.

      November 9, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susa

      Only can be grown for medical purposes so far.......but I expect that to change.......I also expect the tax schedule to change as well. I would guess it will be similar to alcohol prohibition. The tax structure is way over the top, but I would put good money on it loosening, of course that is provided that we dont have over the top problems with the fedsss

      November 9, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susa

      Sorry, wasnt real clear....you can only grow your own for medical reasons, not recreational..........but again, people make beer and wine......I would really be surprised if the state continued restrictions once the people on the fence really realize how much this is soooo not a big deal overall. Most people will never even notice the change.........well than other than seeing the pot stores.......LOL

      November 9, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. willrosswriter

    What is a "misdeanor?" Is it some kind of squirrel?

    November 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Portland tony

    This kinda frees cops and the courts to enforce laws that protect persons and property ....rather than the prosecution of individuals for personal choices. The only problem left is how to ensure the marijuana is properly taxed. Fed and state enforcement had the same problem when Liquor was legalized. Untaxed cheap moonshine vs taxed booze.

    November 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John Vance

    From the Wall Street Journal – "Frito-Lay re-evaluating regional market sales".

    November 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. wildweed

    I think the marijuana plant is so beautiful, such a delicate leaf and the buds are so aromatic. I would just love to grow a plant in my flower garden here in Virginia but not legal, even if you promise not to smoke it.

    November 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • willrosswriter

      Really? I'm incredibly surprised the police won't just take your word for it 😀 You don't seem like the type who would smoke it... uh... Wildweed. 😀

      November 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • juniusgallio

      I get the feeling that the prohibition may not last much longer–maybe by the end of the decade, maybe sooner.

      Doesn't matter to me, because I don't smoke weed, and I'm absolutely horrible with gardens. I have trouble getting porthos plants to survive. 😀

      November 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Average Joe

    I am amazed by Washington voters. Gay marriage and marijuana. The large majority caring about a small majorities happiness. pinch me I think I'm dreaming.

    November 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • juniusgallio

      Hey, it's a good thing! 🙂

      November 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. us_1776

    I think I need a little Rocky Mountain High.


    November 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. everybody

    Must get stoned! 😉

    November 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
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