By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town
Washington state cannabis advocacy group Sensible Washington on Wednesday is filing initiatives to make marijuana enforcement the lowest priority for law enforcement in six cities throughout the state.
“Today in Spokane, Olympia, Bellingham, Everett, Kent and Bremerton we will begin our campaign to bring about local reform to our cannabis policies, by introducing initiatives to make cannabis the lowest enforcement priority in these cities,” said Sensible Washington Steering Committee member Anthony Martinelli. “In addition, these initiatives will prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with federal authorities in the implementation of federal cannabis policies.”
In 2003, Seattle voter’s passed Initiative 75 into law, officially making marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority. Last year, Tacoma passed a similar initiative, Initiative 1, by an overwhelming margin of 65 percent to 35 percent.
A panel found that passage of Seattle’s I-75 was a resounding success:
“The panel’s report is the first of its kind in the US to show that de-prioritizing marijuana enforcement has no negative impact on society. In contrast, this report shows that the measure freed up limited law enforcement resources to focus on violent and dangerous crime.”
“We hope to bring this method of reform, with the addition of federal non-cooperation, to each of these cities across the state,” Martinelli said. “As we mobilize our volunteer base we will be listening to input from the community in consideration of expanding our initiative into other cities.”
In addition to lowest enforcement priority for cannabis, the initiatives will, as mentioned, direct local authorities to refuse to cooperate with the federal government in the implementation of federal cannabis policies.
The following is the attached language used in these cities (minus city-specific coding changes):
WHEREAS, our city’s taxpayers are needlessly burdened by the substantial cost of investigating, arresting, prosecuting and jailing people for charges involving marijuana;
WHEREAS, the federal government has violated the will of Spokane voters by obstructing patient access to medical marijuana;
WHEREAS our city understands the need to refocus limited police resources on violent and serious crimes rather than on the prosecution of non-violent individuals for charges involving marijuana, as to benefit public safety
Be it ordained by the voters in the City of Spokane that:
A new ordinance is adopted and a new section is added to chapter 10.15 of the Spokane Municipal Code.
Subject: This act deals with the implementation of policy relating to law enforcement. This act is to be known as The Marijuana Reform Act of 2012.
Text: The Spokane police department and the City Attorney’s office shall make the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of non violent marijuana offenses, where the marijuana was intended for adult personal use, the lowest law enforcement priority. Consistent with this policy, The City of Spokane and its Police department and City Attorney shall not cooperate with The Federal Government in the enforcement of its laws concerning marijuana, and no funds shall be expended in any manner for cooperation in Federal enforcement of Federal marijuana laws.
Severability: If any provision of this ordinance or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of this ordinance or the application of the terms and provisions to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected.
Interpretation:This act is to be liberally construed to effectuate the defined intent of the voters.
“We certainly plan to use these efforts at local reform to help build up our infrastructure and resources in order to attempt a full repeal of adult cannabis prohibition in our state. With months of prior planning, we hope to formulate an effective and coherent strategy to bring successful and lasting reform,” Martinelli told Toke of the Town earlier this month.
Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.