King and Pierce County prosecutors are going to dismiss more than 220 misdemeanor marijuana cases after the passing of Initiative 502, which decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana.
King County, whose largest city is Seattle, has 175 case dismissals of people 21 and older who were charged with possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. I-502 does not begin until December 6th but Dan Satterberg, King County Prosecutor, has moved to retroactively apply the initiative. Satterberg said in a press release, “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.”
Not long after, the King County Sheriff’s Office announced that their deputies “will not be directed to arrest or charge individuals caught with one ounce of less of marijuana following the passage of I-502.”
A group of academics found that in the past 25 years, there had been 241,000 misdemeanor marijuana possession cases in Washington, and 67,000 of them had been in past five years. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said that when he took office, he stopped prosecuting simple possession marijuana cases altogether.
The Justice Department has not commented on the passing of I-502. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and some are worried that Washington state may be sued over legalization.