‘Trooper' helps light joint at local festival, fools Internet sites

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SEATTLE - An activist who opposes I-502, the law legalizing recreational marijuana use in Washington, tricked popular websites with a video that appeared to show a Washington State Trooper help light a giant, 2-pound joint.

That medical marijuana activist, Steve Sarich, is the Executive Director of the Cannibis Action Coalition.  Sarich is against I-502, saying the DUI portion of the law criminalizes medical marijuana patients every time they drive.

 Sarich donned a Washington State Patrol Trooper uniform at the cannabis culture celebration NW Harvest Festival in Bow last weekend.

He told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Graham Johnson he has the costume for times he teaches classes about impaired driving. 

Video footage showed the “trooper” holding the giant joint while another person lit it with a blow torch.  Once lit, the fake trooper blew on it to get it going.

Sarich said dressing up as a trooper was a spur of the moment thing that happened after someone suggested he go put it on, and no one really thought he was a real trooper.

He said if Seattle cops can laugh about passing out Doritos, as they did at Seattle's Hempfest last month,  he can have some fun, too.

Though Sarich's "uniform" had a Washington State Patrol patch on it, purchased online, the badge on his chest, as well as his hat read "security."

The video is believed to be posted first on marijuana.com Wednesday, and picked up by Gawker, Buzzfeed, the New York Post and many smaller sites, which all apparently believed the trooper was real.

Though Sarich appeared to be impersonating a police officer, the State Patrol viewed the incident as a free speech political statement and not the impersonation of an officer because Sarich was not wearing the uniform to exert any police authority.

The patrol views what Sarich was wearing as a costume.

Bob Calkins with WSP said “the badges are not our badges” and since there’s a culture of trading patches, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Calkins also pointed out the hat and the shirt are the wrong color.

Some of the sites have since removed the video, but many others have not.

New York Post writer Bryan Hood wrote on nypost.com,"A very friendly police officer helped a jubilant crowd light the novelty-sized marijuana cigarette at Northwest Harvest Fest in Bow, Washington. The gathering, held this past weekend, seeks to celebrate music and cannabis culture."

Gawker.com's story read, "What a difference a year makes: In less than 12 months since voters in Washington legalized marijuana, local police officers have gone from putting stoners behind bars to helping stoners light a two-pound joint at last weekend's NW Harvest Fest 2013."