Tuesday, and the opening of Seattle’s first legal recreational marijuana store, was a historic event. Lots of people were on hand to witness it, and partake in the festivities - including City Attorney Pete Holmes.
As a vocal proponent of I-502 during the push for recreational pot legalization, Holmes’ appearance made sense. It wasn’t even terribly shocking to see Holmes make a legal marijuana purchase - a total of two grams - declaring in the moment that he purchased one for posterity, and one “for personal enjoyment.” Holmes has long been a voice for more sensible drug policy; the appearance - and the transaction - was in character.
However, it wasn’t long before Holmes started to get some flack. Some of it was juvenile, like the drawing posted at the West Precinct depicting a stoned, Cheeto-eating City Attorney. That’s to be expected.
But some of the flack Holmes earned was more serious, like when KIRO Radio’s Brandi Kruse, and soon others, began reporting that the City Attorney had broken federal “drug-free workplace” rules by bringing his freshly purchased pot back to City Hall with him.
As it turns out, that’s a no-no - something Holmes or the folks that handle his PR surely should have known.
Today an apologetic Holmes issued a statement admitting to his marijuana misstep, and going as far as volunteering to donate $3,000 to the Downtown Emergency Service Center to show just how sorry he is.
“I was elected to drive such reform, and to eradicate the illegal marijuana market. I intended my public purchase at Seattle’s first legal store to bolster the transition,” Holmes said in a statement issued Friday afternoon. “The workplace rule has not changed, however. When I brought the unopened marijuana to City offices – trying to keep up with a busy schedule -- I nonetheless violated the City’s rules.”
Holmes’ full statement is below:
City Attorney’s statement on marijuana purchase and City workplace policy
The City of Seattle is a “drug-free workplace” under federal law, and our personnel rules reflect these sound workplace policies. Not only are controlled substances (like marijuana) banned from city offices, City employees cannot possess them while on City business.
So what is the rule when “City business” includes successful drug policy reform – specifically, transition from prohibition to a fully legal, regulated and taxed marijuana supply system? I was elected to drive such reform, and to eradicate the illegal marijuana market. I intended my public purchase at Seattle’s first legal store to bolster the transition.
The workplace rule has not changed, however. When I brought the unopened marijuana to City offices – trying to keep up with a busy schedule -- I nonetheless violated the City’s rules. At the end of the business day, I took the marijuana home and left it there, still unopened, before I participated in the second Community Walk of the Mayor’s Summer of Safety.
I have discussed the violation with the City Personnel Department director, and I have volunteered to donate $3,000 to the Downtown Emergency Service Center. I apologize to my employees, all City employees and to the public.