Monday, December 3, 2012

Initiative 502 and the Countdown to December 6

Since voters passed Initiative 502 last month, plenty of news and media outlets have discussed the potential impact the decriminalization of marijuana possession might have on the state of Washington.  While we might be somewhat familiar with Initiative 502 (the text of the initiative can be found via the Secretary of State's Office here), questions raised by the initiative's passage have proved to be imaginative and humorous.

From the Seattle Police Department Blotter Post, "Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use In Seattle":
  • Will police officers be able to smoke marijuana? As of right now, no. This is still a very complicated issue. 
  • SPD seized a bunch of my marijuana before I-502 passed. Can I have it back? No. 
From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's, Washington marijuana law: Answers to I-502 questions:
  • How much will it cost? The specific retail prices haven’t been set. If you think the tax on booze is tough, don’t expect a break with pot. 
  • Can’t you already legally smoke weed in Seattle? Pretty much. City Attorney Pete Holmes has a policy of not filing charges for simple marijuana possession, and in 2003, Seattle voters passed an initiative making the investigation, arrest and prosecution of marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority when the drug was intended for adult personal use. The combination of those explains why some people walk on downtown streets with a lit joint and aren’t worried, and that's also why there were no arrests for pot at Hempfest this year. 
Although some questions (and answers) are amusing, the question of how the federal government will act when the initiative takes effect on December 6 has a more serious tone. In the meantime, keep in mind that refraining from the old "puff puff pass" routine might be the wisest choice since the Washington Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana law does not protect employees from being terminated in Roe v. Teletech.  In addition to job security, foregoing the ganja may be advisable since UW policy states that any use or possession of illicit drugs on the university campus will result in strict penalties including prison time and the loss of federal benefits such as student loans. 

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