Marijuana possession (and soon purchases) are legal in Seattle, but public consumption remains verboten in Seattle much the same way as tipping back a bottle of beer in public. In that vein, Seattle City Council yesterday passed a law making marijuana toking in public a $27 fine – the same for illegal alcohol consumption.
Police, however, say they’ll most likely be issuing warnings “whenever practical” and would like to avoid writing the tickets if they can. We take that to mean that you’ll have to really/em> try to get the citation in most instances.
Not that the cops won’t write them, though.
“For 2013, what you saw a lot of was public education for marijuana legalization. Enforcement was not what we were focusing on,” Det. Sgt. Sean Whitcomb told local KOMO news. “We’re not afraid to cite. And with this ordinance, I think people should look for more enforcement.”
The fine is less than the $103 allowed in Washington’s marijuana laws, which made the use, possession and purchases of limited amounts of cannabis legal under state law.
“The best long-term protection for legal marijuana is to move forward responsibly,” Councilman Nick Licata said in a press release. “Setting a reasonable fine, noting officers will be giving warnings, and studying the impacts strikes a good balance.”
Included in the ordinance is a requirement that police track the location, gender, age and race of the person being cited so that enforcement can be tracked and ensured that the laws are being appropriately applied. That part isn’t insignificant, considering that on average nationally, black males more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white males despite usage rates being about the same between the two groups.
The new law goes into effect mid-January.