Seattle courts dropping charges in pot possession cases

By David Ferguson
Saturday, December 15, 2012 12:23 EDT
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Seattle man smokes pot via screencap
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Prosecutors in King County, Washington are dropping charges against people arrested for possession of small amounts of marijuana.  According to Seattle’s Fox affiliate station KPCQ, the court is taking the measure as a means of saving money and resources for the legal system.

In November, voters in Colorado and Washington state passed measures making recreational marijuana use legal.  Under Washington’s Initiative 502 (.pdf), adults over the age of 21 can legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana or its equivalent in marijuana-laced foodstuffs.

The policy shift echoes President Barack Obama’s statement that the federal government has “bigger fish to fry” than prosecuting recreational pot smokers.

Ian Goodhew of the King County District Attorney’s office said that the question is more what the federal government will do should Washington go through with a plan to begin licensing the sale and distribution of marijuana.  His department began to strike down charges in pending possession cases even before Initiative 502 passed.

However, he said, if the federal government were to pursue cases against individual users, the state courts would not be able to intervene.  ”That would be done by their prosecutors, their court system, not ours,” he said.  ”Our job is to follow state law.”

Police in King County will continue to prosecute people arrested with marijuana they intend to illegally distribute, as well as people who are growing marijuana, which is still illegal.

Watch the video, embedded via Seattle’s KPCQ, below:

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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