Though Washington's voter-approved marijuana legalization law won't formally take effect until December 6th, prosecutors in the state's largest counties are already treating it as the law of the land.
In King County, where Seattle is located, prosecutors announced last Friday plans to dismiss some 175 misdemeanor cases involving pot possession of less than one ounce by individuals over 21.
"Although the effective date of I-502 is not until Dec. 6, there is no point in continuing to seek criminal penalties for conduct that will be legal next month," said King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist, who told local media outlets the second most populous county (behind King County) would dismiss "about four dozen" misdemeanor marijuana cases.
"The people have spoken through this initiative," Lindquist told the Seattle Times. "And as a practical matter, I don't think you could sell a simple marijuana case to a jury after this initiative passed."
Changes to law enforcement policy were also taking place, with King County Sheriff Steve Strachan saying in a statement that adults over 21 caught with an ounce of pot or less would not be arrested, effective immediately.
Despite the fast-moving reforms, residents of Washington should be aware that marijuana remains illegal in the state until next month, and even then, some restrictions still apply.
A Bremerton native who was busted smoking pot inside a parked car near a public park told the police officer he saw on the news that pot was legal. Before hauling the man off to jail, the cop helpfully reminded him that Initiative 502, which doesn't take effect until December 6th, doesn't cover smoking marijuana in public spaces, and certainly doesn't cancel out charges of driving under the influence.
[photo via AP]