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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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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.