The Seattle Police Department on Friday published a how-to guide that explains the do’s and don’ts of marijuana legalization in the state.
Written by a former writer for The Stranger, an alternative weekly newspaper in Seattle, readers might never guess it’s an official publication of the police department were it not for the .gov web domain. Despite the unprecedented nature of a major city’s police department releasing such a thing, it went completely under the radar until Thursday, when The Associated Press picked it up first.
“While I-502 has decriminalized marijuana possession in Washington, the new state law does not change federal law, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic,” the guide explains. “All Seattle Police officers have taken an oath to uphold not only state law, but federal law as well. However, SPD officers will follow state law, and will no longer make arrests for marijuana possession as defined under I-502.”
It adds that it is now legal for adults over 21 to carry up to one ounce of marijuana, but it is not legal to open a package of marijuana in view of the general public. The guide also says that police will be on the lookout for drugged drivers, and they will be ready to get a court order to have blood drawn. Additionally, simply detecting the smell of marijuana in a vehicle will no longer be probable cause for a search. Finally, the department’s guide says it will not assist federal authorities in any crackdowns on individuals or businesses that are obeying state law.
It closes with a clip of Gandalf and Bilbo from “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring,” smoking pipe weed and extolling its virtues. “Gandalf, my friend,” Bilbo exclaims. “This will be a night to remember.”
Seattle, famous for its liberal marijuana policies, also gave America the nation’s current drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, who previously served as chief of police in the city. Norm Stamper, who had the job before him, told Raw Story last week that he really hopes the Obama administration decides to let the states experiment with new policies instead of going back to failed drug war prescriptions.
“It’s a little presumptuous but my suggestion to the Obama administration and the drug czar — who’s my successor, he was police chief in Seattle after me — is to monitor it, watch it, learn from it and perhaps take some lessons that can be applied throughout the country,” he said. “That’s what we hope for.”
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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