In Seattle, liberal politics, marijuana and the cops

EmailGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyFacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditTumblrLinkedInDiggPinterestDeliciousShare

Having gone through my first major election cycle since becoming New To Seattle, I can tell you I live in one politically liberal town. Obama-Biden beat Romney-Ryan by better than a 2-to-1 margin (I’m using stats for all of King County, where Seattle is located), far greater than the statewide 56-42 split. Maria Cantwell, the incumbent Democratic U.S. senator, carried the Seattle area by nearly three-to-one. Local voters approved adult recreational marijuana use and same-sex marriage by roughly 2-to-1 margins that swamped the considerable opposition in other parts of the state.

But then there is the Seattle Police Department, which long has had a somewhat different sense of things. Famous for hitting and ticketing jaywalkers, the force is under a federal order to clean up its act. In its latest escapade, the department was just sued after a jailhouse microphone captured a white cop saying he would “make stuff up” to keep in the slammer two wrongly arrested black robbery suspects who also said cops hit them. The SPD says officers did nothing wrong.

But maybe the cops are finally reading the election results. In the aftermath of the marijuana vote, the department’s official blog site, SPD Blotter, posted an article about how to handle weed in Seattle in light of I-502, as the ballot measure is known. The post’s somewhat whimsical title: “Mariwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use in Seattle.” 

The article dealt with some urgent issues concerning the legalization, which takes effect on December 6. Here’s a sampling. (The answers in parentheses are my summary of the responses.)

–”Can I legally carry around an ounce of marijuana?” (Yes, although it’s a good idea to keep it out of sight).

–”Can I grow marijuana in my home and sell it to my friends, family and co-workers?” (Not yet, but maybe in the future.)

–”What happens if I get pulled over and I’m sober, but an officer or his K9 buddy smells the ounce of Super Skunk I’ve got in my trunk?”  (The smell of pot alone won’t be sufficient probable cause to search the car.)

–”Will SPD assist federal law enforcement in investigations of marijuana users or marijuana-related businesses that are allowed” under state law?” (No.)

–”SPD seized a bunch of my marijuana before I-502 passed. Can I have it back?” (No.)

For good measure, the article closed with a YouTube-posted clip  from the “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy of Gandalf and Bilbo contentedly smoking “the finest weed” around. Now if the cops could just lay off the jaywalkers.

Follow William P. Barrett’s work on Twitter by clicking here.

Share on Facebook