Seattle Pot Possession Arrests Way Down After Referendum


Since Seattle voters in 2003 directed police to make marijuana possession arrests their lowest priority, there has been no groundswell of support to legalize the drug and no discernible protest by law enforcement that a pro-drug message effectively has been sent or received, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Ten years ago, city cops arrested 500 people for personal-use amounts of pot, defined as less than 40 grams, enough for about 50 joints. Arrests had declined sharply since the vote; last year, the first year under the new law, it was 59. So far this year, it’s 35. Voters have approved similar initiatives in Oakland, Ca.; Columbia, Mo., and, two weeks ago, in Denver. The referendum campaign is part of a national legalization push by marijuana advocates, funded partly by billionaire George Soros, who believe some drug laws don’t reflect societal values and habits — at least in some cities. “From a national point of view, the success in those cities can be replicated elsewhere in the United States,” said Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Seattle Councilman Nick Licata, who supported the initiative and is a member of the oversight board, said the vote “really put police on notice that we would like their time spent on more serious crimes.”


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