Now that Washington state allows for the recreational consumption of marijuana prosecutors have worked swiftly to drop 220 pending lawsuits for some very lucky people.
Marijuana smoking will remain illegal in the state for another month but prosecutors have used the new law to lighten their work load quickly and efficiently.
The 220 dropped marijuana cases came from elected prosecutors of King and Pierce counties. Each of the cases involved just misdemeanor marijuana-possession. Prosecutors chose to retroactively apply the December 6 law known as Initiative 502.
According to King County’s Dan Satterberg in an interview with the Seattle Times:
“I think when the people voted to change the policy, they weren’t focused on when the effective date of the new policy would be. They spoke loudly and clearly that we should not treat small amounts of marijuana as an offense.”
Under Initiative 502 carrying an ounce or less of marijuana at one time is no longer criminal. Police in King and Pierce counties have already been told not to arrest people with that amount of marijuana on their persons.
Initiative 502 was approved by 20 of the state’s 39 counties with a 55 to 45 percent victory.
Over the past 25 years more than 241,000 people statewide had been arrested for marijuana possession. Officials estimate that those arrests have cost the state $305 million.
With Washington state now allowing for the recreational consumption of marijuana we will watch closely to see how much money the state saves and perhaps even earns from its newest law.
The big question at this time will be whether or not the Federal government attempts to trump the state initiative.