FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 12/16/2013
Councilmember Nick Licata
Council adopts legislation addressing warnings, fines related to smoking marijuana in public
SEATTLE – Council adopted legislation today setting fines on smoking marijuana in public at the same level as public consumption of alcohol, $27. The legislation notes that the Seattle Police Department will issue a warning to offenders whenever practical before issuing a citation. The bill requires SPD to monitor enforcement by age, race, sex and locations of any citations, so Council can evaluate whether the law is being equitably enforced. The ordinance goes into effect thirty days after it is signed into law by the executive.
"When I-502 legalized recreational marijuana use in Washington State, it also created a fine for consuming marijuana in public. The best long-term protection for legal marijuana is to move forward responsibly. Setting a reasonable fine, noting officers will be giving warnings, and studying the impacts strikes a good balance," said Councilmember Nick Licata, chair of the Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture committee. "This legislation adopts state law."
In 2012, Washington state voters approved I-502 legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and directing the Liquor Control Board to develop a process for regulating marijuana production, processing, selling, and delivery. I-502 includes a provision creating a civil infraction for consuming marijuana in public, with a fine up to $50.
The City Council passed Ordinance 123661 in 2011, clarifying that the manufacture, production, processing, possession, transportation, delivery, dispensing, application, or administration of marijuana must comply with all applicable City laws, and that compliance with City laws does not constitute an exemption from compliance with applicable state and federal regulations.