As of today, December 6, 2012, the possession and use of recreational marijuana is legal in Washington state. A group of marijuana advocates and users gathered at Seattle’s Space Needle to celebrate and light up at midnight, when the law became official.
Legalization was rung in like New Years, with a ten second countdown ending in cheers, hugs, and smoking marijuana legally for the first time in the United States.
In the early hours of the morning, Seattle’s City Attorney Pete Holmes issued a warning that smoking marijuana in public would not be allowed and that violators would be subject to citations and $100 fines. “If you’re smoking in plain public view, you’re subject to a ticket,” he explained. “Initiative 502 uses the alcohol model. If drinking in public is disallowed, so is smoking marijuana in public.”
Seattle Police, however, decided to limit their officers actions this morning, at least for the moment. No police were present at this morning’s celebration at the Space Needle.
Another larger celebration is expected to take place tonight at the Space Needle, and a lack of police presence is expected then as well. Seattle’s Police Department is taking a humorous and laid back approach to encouraging marijuana users to respect the limitations of the state’s new law.
On Wednesday, the department posted a picture of Jeff Bridges as “The Dude” from the Big Lebowski on their blog. The picture was captioned, “The Dude abides, and says, ‘take it inside!”
The department currently lacks clear enforcement authority for citations and there will not be legislation in place for at least 30 days. The department explained on their blog that, “In the meantime, in keeping with the spirit of I-502, the department’s going to give you a generous grace period to help you adjust to this brave, new, and maybe kinda stoned world we live in.”
Never afraid to be a buzz kill, US Attorney Jenny Durkan made sure to reiterate the federal government’s stance on the sale and use of marijuana in a statement released Wednesday. She explained, as we all know, that marijuana is still illegal under federal law in spite of changes in state law.