Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes briefed the Seattle City Council on his annual reportand shared thoughts on marijuana enforcement, as also notes. His report says that "with the exception of one case that accidentally got through, not one possession of marijuana case was filed all year." But Holmes included this dandy bar graph that shows the Seattle Police Department is referring more than twice as many pot cases now than when he was elected:

Marijuana cases more that doubled between 2008 and 2010
  • Seattle City Attorney's Office
  • Marijuana cases more that doubled between 2008 and 2010

We wrote about the increase in marijuana referrals last summer, when the mid-year rates for marijuana filings were nearly three times higher than the previous year. But today Holmes's office couldn't speculate on the reason for a jump in marijuana referrals, said spokeswoman Kimberly Mills.

Mayor Mike McGinn speculated last year that the increase in pot referrals may not indicate more stops for marijuana. The higher numbers may result from new automated electronic filing mechanism (Criminal Justice Information System) that may capture more police activity. Spokesman Aaron Pickus says the automated system removes officers' discretion from filtering out cases, so all cases actually appear as referrals to Holmes's office. Is this why the numbers are higher? "We can’t quantify the effect on the numbers between the old system and the new system," says Pickus. In other words, a year later, McGinn's office is still speculating.

Sean Whitcomb, SPD spokesman, also can't explain the apparent jump in marijuana referrals. But he says that while marijuana is the department's lowest priority, it's "still technicality a law violation and we may be in a position to take some sort of enforcement action. We understand and recognize that these cases may not be prosecuted."

It's hard to be sure what's happening. But to his credit, Holmes has been innovative, decisive, and has walked his talk—even co-sponsoring a smart state initiative filed in June to legalize and tax the pot industry—and made this a purely academic question since he refuses to press charges. McGinn, on the other hand, well... he talks a big game on legalizing pot. But that's about it.