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Moving Forward On I-502

Washington's Marijuana Legalization Grows Knowledge, Not Just Pot:
A Report on the State's Strategy to Assess Reform
A new assessment by the Brookings Institution's Center for Effective Public Management says: "While Colorado is justifiably garnering headlines with its ambitiously rapid (and, in many respects, impressive) legalization rollout, there is a case to be made that Washington is undertaking the more radical and far-reaching reform. It is, in effect, attempting not just to change the way the state regulates marijuana, but also to develop tools by which to judge reform and to show that those tools can be relevant amid the hurly-burly of partisan political debate."

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Marijuana FAQ

  1. Where can I buy marijuana in Seattle?
    A current list of the stores licensed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board is provided at the end of this FAQ.
  2. Should I buy marijuana at a medical dispensary or collective garden? 
    No! You should only patronize I-502 retailers licensed by the state. All other dispensaries and collective gardens are neither licensed nor regulated. They have no quality control or labeling requirements or safety guidelines, so you cannot know with certainty what you are buying or how much THC is in it. Anyone distributing marijuana without an I-502 license is also committing a felony under both Washington and federal law. Unlicensed medical dispensaries may have an affirmative defense to criminal charges, but all are subject to arrest and criminal prosecution for distributing marijuana outside the I-502 system.
  3. Should I buy marijuana in a park or on the street? 
    No! The person selling it to you is committing felony delivery. State law allows only I-502 licensed stores to sell marijuana. There is no state certification or guarantee that you are getting quality, untainted marijuana if you buy from anyone other than an I-502 licensed store.
  4. Where can I use marijuana? 
    Marijuana can be used any place that is not in view of the general public. Streets, sidewalks, parks, and public places are all in the view of the general public
  5. Can I use marijuana in a park? 
  6. Can I smoke the marijuana?
    If you choose to smoke marijuana, you must comply with the open use laws as well as the smoking laws for the State of Washington. These are two separate infractions and could total well over $200 in fines if combined. Do not smoke marijuana in view of the general public and do not smoke it inside a business or within 25 feet of the entrance to a business. Check with your hotel/motel for any rooms where smoking might be permitted.
  7. Can I take it home with me?
    Not if you live outside Washington State. Buy it here, enjoy it here.
  8. Can I take it on an airplane?
State-Licensed Stores Address
Cannabis City 2733 4TH Ave S
Uncle Ike's 2310 E Union St
Ocean Greens 9724 Aurora Ave N
Grass 14343 15th Ave NE #A
Mary's N Seattle 12230 Aurora Ave N #B
Ganja Goddess 3207 1ST Ave S Unit C
Herb's House 716 NW 65th St
Seattle Cannabis Co. 3230 1st Ave S #B
A Greener Today Recreational 10522 Lake City Way NE #C103-104
Hashtag 3540 Stone Way N
Herbn Elements 11013 Lake City Wy NE
Seattle Tonics 12059 Aurora Avenue N
Oz 3831 Stone Way N
Pot Shop  1058 N. 39th St.

Education first, enforcement second
As you know, Section 21 of I-502 makes it a class 3 civil infraction--punishable by a relatively small fine, but no jail time or criminal record--to open or consume marijuana in view of the general public. It's within SPD's discretion to decide how to issue infractions, whether for jaywalking, speeding, or smoking marijuana on the sidewalk. Pete supports a measured system of warnings to encourage voluntary compliance with Section 21 before issuing citations.

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Ensuring Constitutional Policing

On a daily basis, assistant city attorneys in the Government Affairs, Torts and Employment sections advise the Mayor's Office, City Council and Seattle Police Department in the complex, years-long effort to bring the City into full compliance with the police reform consent decree supervised by U.S. District Judge James Robart. In addition to our attorneys, Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole is aided by the active oversight of federal Monitor Merrick Bobb, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Seattle Community Police Commission. New policies on use of force, crisis intervention, bias-free policing, and stops and detentions have been approved, and officers are being re-trained on constitutional policing standards.

Ensuring Affordability and Livability

The City Attorney sees the availability of affordable housing as essential to Seattle remaining the vibrant, livable City we all want it to be. Affordable housing means that lower- and middle-class families can enjoy the City's great public spaces and schools; it means that new immigrants and school teachers can mingle on the streets with Amazon techies and Boeing executives. But sustaining affordable housing and making sure that its availability keeps pace with the City's burgeoning growth presents many legal questions.

State statutes, federal and state constitutions and complex land use regulations must all be considered in planning the City's route to affordable housing. The City Attorney's Office has made it a priority to support the Council and the Mayor in finding legally viable ways to meet the City's affordable housing needs.