With Seattle and Tacoma already having passed similar laws, Sensible Washington - a "group of citizens working to end adult cannabis (marijuana) prohibition for responsible adult use in Washington State," according to its website - announced plans yesterday to file initiatives in six Washington cities, intended to make prosecution for pot offenses the lowest law enforcement priority in Olympia, Spokane, Bellingham, Everett, Kent and Bremerton.
Seattle's version of the law - known as Initiative 75 - was passed in 2003, while Tacoma passed a similar law in 2011.
While there's certainly a symbolic element to "lowest priority" marijuana enforcement laws, Sensible Washington is taking this latest effort seriously. On its website, Sensible Washington cites a 2007 review by Seattle's Marijuana Policy Review Panel - established by Initiative 75 - which found no evidence of adverse effects from the law and noted that it freed up police to focus on other, more pressing criminal activities.
From Sensible Washington's announcement yesterday:
We begin our campaign to bring about local reform of cannabis policies, by introducing initiatives to make cannabis the lowest enforcement priority in the following cities: Spokane, Olympia, Bellingham, Everett, Kent, and Bremerton. In addition, these initiatives will prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with federal authorities in the implementation of federal cannabis policies. ...
We hope to bring this method of reform, with the addition of federal non-cooperation, to each of these cities across the state. As we mobilize our volunteer base, we will be listening to input from other communities, to consider expanding our initiative into more cities.
Last year Tacoma passed its version of the law by a roughly two-to-one vote ratio.