Stirring pot, Lewis County to keep prosecuting marijuana possession

Lewis County will continue to prosecute marijuana possession cases, unlike some other counties in Western Washington. 

CHEHALIS, Wash. — At least one county is bucking what's turning out to be a popular trend on pot prosecutions.

Since the Election Day vote to legalize an ounce of marijuana, King, Pierce, Thurston, Clark, and Grays Harbor counties have all decided not to pursue cases involving amounts that small.

But Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer says that as along as pot remains illegal, he will keep prosecuting the crime.

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Anthony Colee is one of 73 people still facing misdemeanor charges in Lewis County for possessing a small amount of marijuana.

"(It's) not fair for the people being prosecuted, not fair for the taxpayers having to pay for the people being prosecuted," Colee told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Richard Thompson.

Meyer said until the law goes into effect next month, having less than an ounce of pot remains illegal in our state and he plans to enforce the law.

"If you're caught before Dec. 6 with marijuana we're going to continue to prosecute," Meyer said.

When asked about decisions by prosecutors in Pierce and King counties, who say it's a waste of time and resources, Meyer said, "I will never let a budget issue stand in the way of prosecuting a crime."

Meyer said it's not an extra cost because the judges and prosecutors are already working.

But Anthony Colee, who had to take a day off work and drive through three counties that would have dropped similar charges, believes Lewis County's decision to prosecute is costing everyone.

Colee was offered a diversion program instead of jail time, which is not usual.

He has to stay out of trouble for six month and pay to attend a drug and alcohol program. He said it's still not fair because he will end up missing three unpaid days of work.