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UPDATE: Marijuana Users Free to Smoke Up, but Drug Dealers Still Face Arrests and Prosecution

Police Chief Shawn Ledford, City Manager Julie Underwood and City Prosecutor Sarah Roberts to meet this afternoon to discuss policy and will likely put an end officially to marijuana possession arrests and prosecution

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. 

Original story:

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." 

Malcolm Kyle November 14, 2012 at 02:36 PM
A RECENT STUDY: On 29-Nov-2011, a study was published by University of Colorado Denver Professor Daniel Rees and Montana State University Assistant Professor D. Mark Anderson showing states that have legalized medical marijuana experience fewer fatal car crashes compared to states that have not. The researchers suggest that there may be fewer fatal drunk driving accidents in those jurisdictions because more people may be choosing to smoke marijuana instead of making the more dangerous choice of consuming alcohol - both traffic fatalities and alcohol consumption declined. The rate of fatal crashes in which a driver had consumed any alcohol dropped 12% after medical marijuana was legalized, and crashes involving high levels of alcohol consumption fell 14%. The study thoroughly accounted for other contributing factors regarding this decrease, such as changes in the number of miles traveled each year and new traffic laws. "Our research suggests that the legalization of medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities through reducing alcohol consumption by young adults," - Daniel Rees, professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver who co-authored the study with D. Mark Anderson, assistant professor of economics at Montana State University. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-11/uocd-ssm112911.php
Malcolm Kyle November 14, 2012 at 02:38 PM
A MORE RECENT STUDY: A provider of free online auto insurance quotes says it has conducted a study that concludes marijuana uses are safer drivers. “What law enforcement agencies and insurers do not understand is that driving while high is actually a safe activity,” —James Shaffer, chief executive officer of the national auto-quote provider, in a statement. According to the study, marijuana users may get into fewer accidents than other drivers. The study looked at data on accidents, traffic violations and insurance prices. The only significant effect of smoking marijuana may be slower driving. http://www.4autoinsurancequote.org/uncategorized/reasons-why-marijuana-users-are-safe-drivers/ Google "MARIJUANA DRIVING STUDY". You'll see two common findings: 1. Drivers under the influence of marijuana are VERY SLIGHTLY impaired. 2. Unlike those under the influence of alcohol, marijuana consumers are aware they are VERY SLIGHTLY impaired and they CONSISTENTLY ADEQUATELY COMPENSATE by slowing down and being a little more cautious. That doesn’t mean they get in the fast lane on the interstate and drive 15 miles per hour. Marijuana makes you cautious, not crazy. - Those Cheech and Chong movies were comedies, NOT documentaries!
FlyingTooLow November 14, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Here's another idea...release all those convicted of ANY marijuana offense. Law enforcement needs to re-direct its focus on crime...to those that are REAL crimes. I was in Federal Prison for 5 years for a marijuana offense. No, it was not for simple possession. I was arrested aboard a Lockheed PV2 in Marianna, Florida...charged and convicted for conspiracy to import and distribute 12,000 pounds of marijuana. At the time, I really had no idea what I had gotten myself into...mine was an offense involving pot...the thought never occurred to me that I may actually spend years in prison for that 'indiscretion.' As the 5 years rolled by, what I did see were armed bank robbers, coming and going...while I still sat there for marijuana. Most of the bank robbers only spent 17 to 24 months. But, I and my fellow 'drug offenders,'...we stayed for years. I wrote about the escapades that led to my incarceration. I admit, I had a great time. No one was injured, no one was killed, firearms were not involved...there were no victims. We were Americans...doing what Americans do best...living free. Truly, it is time for this lunacy to end...it never should have begun. My book is: Shoulda Robbed a Bank I would be honored by your review.

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