Pete Holmes wants to make marijuana practically legal in Seattle. But if the state decriminalizes pot, carrying it could cost you a $100 fine.
Speaking today before a group of staunch progressives, a few Democratic party officials, and a guy that looked a lot like Jerry Garcia, City Attorney-elect Pete Holmes reiterated his promise not to prosecute people for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Currently, if you're caught carrying 40 grams or less of pot without a prescription, it's a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in prison and a $250 fine. Holmes also says that, unlike his predecessor, he won't tack possession on to extend the sentence of people charged with other crimes.
So while pot remains illegal in the rest of the state, under Holmes you will face no penalty for having small amounts of it inside Seattle city limits.
Sounds great, right? Ironically, though, if the state legislature passes a bill next session to decriminalize pot, Seattleites will pay a higher price for possession.
Holmes outlined his position today at a lunch meeting of the Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle, the unofficial left wing of the local Democratic party. The central topic of discussion wasn't enforcement in the city, but the club's desire to see the state legislature pass Senate Bill 5615, a bill that would downgrade marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to a ticketable infraction. State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, introduced the bill last session and because the legislature operates on a two-year cycle, it's still alive.
If it passes, meting out justice for pot possession would no longer be in Holmes' hands, since there would no longer be a criminal offense meriting prosecution. Instead a cop would write you a ticket and you would either pay the $100 or go to municipal court and hope for leniency from a sympathetic judge. So instead of getting Holmes's hands-off approach, Seattle smokers would be subject to $100 fines from the cops.
In other words, statewide decrimanlization will actually make pot smokers in Holmes's city subject to more punishment. I know, it's so weird.