Seattle Marijuana Initiative Criticized

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Jul 29, 2002.

  1. By Associated Press
    Source: Associated Press

    Opponents of a proposed Seattle initiative aimed at relaxing enforcement of marijuana laws say it would create more work for police and create legal hurdles for prosecutors.
    Initiative 75 would not change marijuana laws but would ask city police to make personal marijuana possession by adults their lowest priority.

    It also would require police and the city attorney's office to report marijuana prosecutions to a Marijuana Policy Review Panel -- an 11-person panel that would be created by the City Council. The panel would evaluate the effects of the initiative after five years.

    Lt. Gov. Brad Owen criticized the measure, saying it would create more paperwork for police and legal hurdles for prosecutors and give suspected marijuana offenders a legal loophole by allowing them to say police placed too high a priority on their cases.

    "The implication is that there are hundreds of thousands of people in jail because they smoke a joint on Friday night," Owen told a Seattle newspaper. "I have confidence that law enforcement has not made marijuana arrests of casual pot smokers a high priority in the city of Seattle."

    The city attorney's office said less than 150 of its 17,000 misdemeanor criminal cases last year were for marijuana possession. That's an indication that police do not place priority on marijuana laws, said Kathryn Harper, spokeswoman for the city attorney.

    Members of the Sensible Seattle Coalition filed 19,600 signatures Monday in support of Initiative 75, about 2,400 more than needed to get on Seattle's Nov. 5 ballot.

    The signatures are now in the hands of the King County Elections office, where they are being screened to ensure they are from registered voters. The initiative would still need City Council approval before making it to the ballot.

    Councilman Nick Licata has endorsed the initiative, saying available data indicate marijuana is not an addictive drug. Other City Council members did not immediately comment on the measure.

    While Licata agrees that police don't put excessive resources into marijuana-possession arrests, he likes that I-75 would reinforce its low priority.

    "I think that it's better to have our limited funds for public safety being directed toward car prowlers and home burglaries, rather than arresting adults for smoking marijuana," Licata said.

    Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske declined comment on the initiative, a spokeswoman said Friday.

    Source: Associated Press
    Published: Saturday, July 27, 2002
    Copyright: 2002 Associated Press

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