Seattle like most cities has a long drug history. Unfortunately there is no getting around the drug problem in any state or any city. Some cities and states do have bigger problems with drugs than others but the truth is every state has their own issues with it.
Seattle’s drug history is going to be a colorful one in the future due to its recent legalization of marijuana. Seattle’s drug history and the entire state of Washington are going to go down in history as the first to legalize marijuana. While the rest of Seattle’s drug history is pretty basic, this will go down in history as one of the biggest decisions yet.
Marijuana has existed in a grey area in Seattle’s drug history for some time now. Despite a longstanding national prohibition on marijuana, minor marijuana possession has been the lowest enforcement priority for the Seattle Police Department since Seattle voters passed Initiative 75 in 2003. Officers don’t like grey areas in the law. I-502 now gives them more clarity. Marijuana legalization as a part of Seattle’s drug history creates some challenges for the Seattle Police Department, but SPD is already working to respond to these issues head on, by doing things like reviewing SPD’s hiring practices for police officers to address now-legal marijuana usage by prospective officers, as well as current employees.
While I-502 has decriminalized marijuana possession in Washington, the new state law does not change federal law, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic. All Seattle Police officers have taken an oath to uphold not only state law, but federal law as well. However, SPD officers will follow state law, and will no longer make arrests for marijuana possession as defined under I-502. The Seattle Police Department and Mayor Mike McGinn have already begun working with state officials to navigate this conflict, and follow the direction of Washington voters to legalize marijuana. The Seattle Police Department will continue to enforce laws against unlicensed sale or production of marijuana, and regulations against driving under the influence of marijuana, which remain illegal.
Seattle’s marijuana dispensaries will also be making history since they are literally in a battle with the federal government. Many of Seattle’s drug history making marijuana dispensaries have gotten letters from the DEA stating that the need to cease and desist. It was the first notable enforcement action in Washington since recreational marijuana was legalized last year. Federal officials say it won’t be the last. The federal Controlled Substances Act prohibits marijuana in any form, and it allows stiffer penalties if a provider is within 1,000 feet of a school, childcare center or park. Gerdes said he’s not sure which prohibited facility he’s too close to, but he plans to relocate. The DEA sent 11 of those letters in Seattle at the end of April, informing landlords and dispensaries that they must close or face possible forfeiture and criminal charges.
Whatever happens with the legalization of marijuana and the rules Seattle and the entire state of Washington are putting in place for this legalization; the fact is Seattle is making drug history with a move like this. We may see other cities and states make drug history soon. This is just one other story in Seattle’s drug history.