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Nov 12, 2012

Washington State marijuana reform in effect already

During last week’s election two states, Washington and Colorado, voted for ballot measures to legalise the use of marijuana.  This will require legislative changes in both states to bring current laws into line with the new requirements and until that happens, the old laws remain in effect.
Prosecutors in Washington State though, are moving fast to come into line with the new reality in that state, dropping numerous charges that are in the pipeline: 
Washington and Colorado became the first U.S. states to remove criminal sanctions for personal possession of an ounce (28.5 grams) or less of marijuana as voters approved ballot measures on Tuesday to legalize recreational use of the drug, setting up a possible showdown with the federal government. 
Washington state's legalization measure passed with more than 55 percent of voters supporting it and fewer than 45 percent opposed, and will take effect next month. 
But prosecutors in Washington's King and Pierce counties - which contain the cities of Seattle and Tacoma - moved swiftly to announce they were dropping 225 pending possession cases currently in the pipeline. 
"The people have spoken loudly in Initiative 502, and there seems to be no point in continuing to prosecute cases for conduct that's going to be legal in a couple of weeks," King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg told Reuters. 
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said, "I don't believe any jury is going to convict on a simple marijuana case after this initiative has passed." 
All the cases slated for dismissal represent the relative few in which marijuana possession alone is charged. Conviction for possession of an ounce or less carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail, Lindquist said. …
It is refreshing to see an outbreak of common sense among prosecutors, which will save the state a great deal, of money, court time, and prison costs.
In a nation where some estimates indicate that 50% of the prison population is there for non-violent drug offences, Colorado and Washington State are showing real leadership.  The ‘War on Drugs’ has been going on for over 40 years since Nixon fired the first shots in 1971, much longer than prohibition, which only lasted for thirteen.  The effects of both are remarkably similar.
The Obama Administration has not as yet responded to these new laws, but is expected to react violently to them.  The Federal government has been extremely aggressive on the drug front, especially in states where medical marijuana laws are in effect to the point where Bush and Clinton now appear bastions of tolerance. 

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