Now that Washington State voters have passed Initiative 502 to legalize marijuana, Sergeant Sean Whitcomb, a spokesman for the Seattle Police Department, says this: "For us, the law has changed, and people can expect no enforcement for possession." The law takes effect on December 6.
To put Whitcomb's comments in context, check out the post I wrote earlier today about I-502; prosecutors explained that they wouldn't be charging pot possession cases starting on December 6, and the city attorney said there's nothing the feds could do about the state's new possession law.
Still, Whitcomb acknowledges that implementing legalization is uncharted territory, particularly portions of the law that deal with licensing growers, distributors, and sellers. "It is complicated because state law is now in contrast to federal law," he says. "We are in this gray area right now where we are going to be looking for some immediate guidance from the Washington State Attorney General's Office," which is run by Republican Rob McKenna (at least for the next two months).
But he reiterates: "What you can expect is no enforcement on possession—that is a reasonable expectation."
The Washington State Liquor Control Board will now begin a rule-making process for potential marijuana businesses that will last at least one year. Whitcomb reminds people that, until then, selling pot remains illegal. "There are some people who think this is going to be de facto legal everything," he says, "and that is just not correct."