King, Pierce counties dropping marijuana cases



SEATTLE - Prosecutors in King and Pierce counties announced Friday that they are dropping pending cases of marijuana possession after state voters legalized the drug in Tuesday's election.


King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg said his decision affects 175 misdemeanor cases.


"Although the effective date of I-502 is not until December 6, there is no point in continuing to seek criminal penalties for conduct that will be legal next month," Satterberg said.


Later Friday afternoon, the King County Sheriff's Office said deputies will no longer be directed to arrest or charge people caught with one ounce or less of marijuana.


"Now that the initiative has passed, and now that the Prosecutor’s Office won't be charging the individuals, we will also not focus on behavior that will be legal under Washington State law after Dec. 6," said King County Sheriff Steve Strachan.


The sheriff's office said the decision only affects deputies working in unincorporated King County; the 12 municipalities it contracts with for police services will make their own decisions.


Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said his decision will affect about 50 people in Pierce County.


Under Initiative 502, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is legal for people 21 years or older. The initiative passed on Tuesday with 55 percent of the vote.


The state Liquor Control Board must establish guidelines for the sale and distribution of marijuana.  It’s expected to take a year before the system is in place and the public will be able to legally buy the drug.


In the meantime, it will still be illegal to sell, produce or deliver marijuana for those who are not licensed medical marijuana providers.


What is your reaction to the decision?  Let us know by posting your comments below.  Since comments are anonymous, please mention if you are one of the 175 who had a pending possession case.