Seattle Police Chief Will Speak at Pot Rally

It's Historic, but a Nonissue Thanks to Legalization

Seattle Police Chief Will Speak at Pot Rally

When Seattle cops cracked down on May Day protests last week, they formed phalanxes and blasted the crowd with pepper spray. But when demonstrators arrive downtown this Saturday—for a protest with its own civil disobedience—the city's top cop won't be an adversary. He'll be the keynote speaker.

The annual Cannabis Freedom March will feature interim Seattle police chief Jim Pugel. Having the leader of a major US city police department speak at a marijuana march is obviously of historic significance, and it demonstrates that after years of marijuana-law protests and organizing, including a legalization initiative that passed last year, the political movement has co-opted officials once seen as opponents.

"This is a public outreach opportunity," says SPD spokesman Sergeant Sean Whitcomb, who is also speaking at the pot rally. "Our department has been on the leading edge of public education and awareness surrounding Initiative 502. For us to be invited to the Cannabis Freedom March is fitting and not really surprising."

Had I really called my local police department?

"We serve the people and we support the law," Whitcomb states matter-of-factly. "We were honored to be invited."

Still, in other parts of the country, active-duty police rarely criticize the drug war. Neill Franklin of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition tells me the group has fewer than six active-duty members who speak publicly. "There is a perception among active law enforcement that they will be ostracized, passed over for promotion, or disciplined for speaking out on this topic," Franklin says. In years past, several law-enforcement employees have faced retribution for expressing support of legalization.

Even though using marijuana in public view is technically an infraction these days, and some pot smoking seems inevitable at the march, cannabis consumer outreach is simply part of the police department's job now. "It's not a surprise," says Sergeant Whitcomb. "I think it's clearly a sign of the times." recommended

On Sat May 11, the Cannabis Freedom March gathers from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Volunteer Park then snakes down Broadway toward Westlake Park for a rally from 2 to 6 p.m. Interim police chief Jim Pugel, city attorney Pete Holmes, and liquor board chair Sharon Foster are expected to speak between 2 and 3 p.m.


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Olo 1
They should move the rally underneath the Viaduct.
Posted by Olo on May 8, 2013 at 9:19 AM · Report this
This post is specially for you, Olo:

"The more obvious the failure becomes, the more shamelessly they exhibit their genuine motives. In plain words, what moves them is the psychological aberration called sadism. They lust to inflict inconvenience, discomfort, and whenever possible, disgrace upon the persons they hate, which is to say: upon everyone who is free from their barbarous theological superstitions, and is having a better time in the world than they are."

—An extract from "Notes on Democracy" by Henry Louis Mencken, written in 1926, during alcohol prohibition (1919-1933):
Posted by malcolmkyle on May 9, 2013 at 1:43 AM · Report this
MaryJaneMember 3
Cool, but are they going to enforce the law as it currently stands; no public display or smoking of Marijuana? Me thinks not. Why have these laws if they can be arbitrarily overlooked by politicians and the police?
Posted by MaryJaneMember on May 9, 2013 at 5:06 PM · Report this
Fire all the pigs and replace them with Hope.
Posted by 5th Columnist on May 9, 2013 at 7:06 PM · Report this
to the person who called cops "pigs," this guy in my opinion is acting quite brave and showing that not all cops are "pigs" so for you to use that generalization hurts the cause, don't you think? We don't want them lumping us altogether in some negative light. Let's not do the same to them. Peace.
Posted by SpiderLily1 on May 10, 2013 at 9:55 AM · Report this
This is Funny and the City's Finest "Dopes" will be speaking- every pun intended. Ironic what we place our Rights and Values on- Sex, Drugs and Rock-n-Roll.
Posted by Gray Panther on May 11, 2013 at 11:25 AM · Report this

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