UPDATE: Shoreline Police Chief Shawn Ledford confirmed this evening that after meeting with City Manager Julie Underwood and City Prosecutor Sarah Roberts that the city will no longer arrest or prosecute adults 21-and-over who are in possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, following the lead of King County.
Shoreline will likely stop arresting and prosecuting anyone possessing marijuana now and into the future, following the lead of other police agencies and prosecutors.
Shoreline Police have not placed much of an emphasis on marijuana possession and arrests recently anyway, Chief Shawn Ledford said, but the new law created by Initiative 502 to legalize possession of an ounce of marijuana for adults 21-and-over has led King County law enforcement and prosecutors to stop making arrests and prosecuting cases now. The law goes into effect Dec. 6.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced last week that his office would drop 175 pending misdemeanor marijuana possession cases. Deputies in unincorporated King County have been advised by Sheriff Steve Strachan not to arrest anyone possessing pot.
"We’re meeting with the city manager (Julie Underwood) and prosecutor (Sarah Roberts) tomorrow afternoon," Ledford said on Tuesday. "I imagine we’ll follow suit."
"The more consistent that cities are (the better) and it's good practice, good law," Ledford said. "It makes sense not so do anyting different."
The state government including the liquor control board will be charged with determining how marijuana will be grown, distributed and taxed during the next year. While people won't be arrested for possession, those dealing marijuana who aren't a licensed as a medical marijuana collective garden are still subject to arrest and prosecution.
"If somebody is a large distributor or drug dealer that’s not going to change," Ledford said. "We’re going to focus on those types of crimes."
Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, which supercedes state laws in most cases, and it remains to be seen if there will be legal challenges to new laws legalizing small amounts of marijuana in Washington state and Colorado.
It will still be illegal to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana if you are impaired.
Blood tests can determine the level of THC in someone's system or there are "drug recognition experts," who can be used to gauge impairment, Ledford said.
Police most commonly test and use experts when someone is involved in a major accident or collision and is suspected of being impaired from marijuana or other drug.
The driving under the influence of intoxicants statute covers drug impairment including marijuana but the overwhelming majority of cases involve alcohol.
"It’s the exception that someone is charged for being under the influence of marijuana or another drug," Ledford said. "It's more difficult to detect."