'Stay Informed' On I-502
Media please contact: Kimberly Mills (206) 684-8602
Moving Forward On I-502
Education first, enforcement second
As you know, Section 21 of I-502 makes it a class 3 civil infraction - punishable by a small fine but no jail time or criminal record - to open or consume marijuana in view of the general public. The City Council followed suit, enacting a $27 ticket for smoking marijuana in public. Pete supports a measured system of warnings to encourage voluntary compliance before issuing citations.
Unlike criminal prosecutions, the City Attorney's Office only becomes involved with infraction citations if they're challenged in court. As Pete has already promised with all infractions, we will monitor for evidence of racially disproportionate applications - as plainly occurred under the prior, wrong-headed policy of criminalized marijuana prohibition. That is why Pete further advocates for places where renters (and tourists) can use marijuana without violating rental agreements.
Under I-75, we distinguish infractions from criminal prosecutions for personal marijuana possession primarily because Seattle voters overwhelmingly supported I-502 long after voting for I-75. Civil infractions for public marijuana use weren't contemplated when I-75 passed over a decade ago. There are also concerns about exposing the general public to second-hand marijuana smoke, apart from I-75's concerns about using criminal law enforcement tools (arrest, prosecution, jail sentences and criminal records) to target personal marijuana use.
Like open containers for alcohol, the City Council set the fine at $27 for smoking or consuming marijuana in public. The council also required SPD to monitor enforcement by age, race, sex and locations of any citations, so Council can evaluate whether the law is being equitably enforced. Because the report on the first six months of tickets revealed that one officer was responsible for a disproportionate share of them, the City "hit the reset button," in Pete's words.
Learn about marijuana. (Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at UW)