The King County Prosecutor wants you to be clear about Washington’s new marijuana law: You’re not breaking the law if you have an ounce or less of pot on you, but you can’t sell it or grow it.
“This is a ground-breaking law. It puts Washington state really at the forefront of national reform efforts for marijuana, but there’s a lot of confusion that goes with it,” said Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.
Initiative 502 was passed by voters a month ago.
“It will be not a crime any longer for you to possess up to an ounce,” said Satterberg.
The catch is, there is no way to legally obtain pot
“It still would be a felony crime to sell it. It’s still a felony crime to grow it unless you have that medical authorization under the state’s medical marijuana law, so those kind of live in a parallel world, “ said Satterberg.
As Washington tries to navigate the muddy legal waters, Satterberg expects the federal government to take a stand.
The Washington state Liquor Control Board will be in charge of putting together licensing rules for growing, producing, transporting and selling pot.
“That’s the part, I think, that the federal government is not going to stand for. I think the feds are going to come in and sue us and enjoin the state from enforcing that part of the law,” said Satterberg.
Satterberg predicts the case could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court in the next two years.
Satterberg said it will be up to each individual law enforcement agency to decide how strictly to enforce the law.
If police believe you are driving under the influence of marijuana, Satterberg said there can be a blood draw. The legal limit is 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.
Satterberg said the focus of his office will still be more geared toward alcohol-related crimes rather than marijuana-related.
“The abuse of alcohol is at the root of about half of our serious violent felony crimes,” said Satterberg.