Ticketing Marijuana Use
4:39 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Smoking Pot In Public In Seattle Could Cost You

Seattle City Council is considering a law that would make public pot smoking a ticketable offense. Tickets would cost more than $100 dollars, mirroring a state law. At the playground at Cowan Park in Seattle on Friday, people had mixed reactions to banning pot smoking in public.

Moses Yim works for a teen camp at the park, and said he isn’t bothered by public smoking. He even thinks the $103 ticket is too high. “[That] seems kind of steep," he said. "Only because I haven’t heard about a lot crimes based on someone who was high, off of weed, necessarily.”

On the other hand, Sohini Chattobadhyay said the ban is a great idea. She even thinks tickets should be raised to $200, saying the second-hand smoke is upsetting.

The state’s pot legalization law, or Initiative 502, prohibits marijuana use ‘in view of the general public.’ However, Seattle Police officers don’t usually bother citing people because they consider it a low priority issue.

Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said if the law passes, officers will still give a verbal warning first if they encounter public marijuana use. If a person doesn’t comply, they’ll write them a ticket.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes has always been behind the low-priority approach to marijuana. But now, he’s sponsoring the initiative. He backs the idea that people should be educated first, then ticketed if they don’t change their behavior. “If you see the fellow with a bong next to a family at Seattle Center and someone says, ‘Please sir, that’s not legal, you need to desist,’ and they continue, then that’s when that person deserves a ticket,” he said.

By adopting the ordinance at a local level, the city would be able to keep about half of the money from each ticket issued.