Drug Policy

Pot Smoking Is a Lower Lowest Priority in Seattle Than It Is in Denver


Pete Holmes, Seattle's new city attorney, is dropping the marijuana possession cases he inherited from his predecessor, Tom Carr, and says he does not plan to prosecute anyone for that offense, barring "out-of the-ordinary circumstances." Holmes promised that policy when he ran for office, citing a 2003 ballot initiative that instructed city officials to treat marijuana possession as their lowest law enforcement priority. Mason Tvert, head of the group that persuaded Denver voters to approve a similar initiative in 2007, wonders why his city can't take the same approach. "If Seattle's city attorney can establish a formal policy of no longer filing marijuana possession charges despite Washington's state possession law," Tvert asks in a letter to fellow members of the Denver Marijuana Policy Review Panel, "why is it that Denver cannot do so, according to Denver city officials?" In Denver, as in Seattle under Carr, pot arrests and prosecutions have continued in defiance of voters' preferences.

Previous coverage of Denver's initiative here, here, here, and here.