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Legal Marijuana in Seattle

I’m kind of in a state of shock.

Not because only legal pot store in Seattle, Cannabis City, on its Opening Day. No. I’m in a state of shock because the local Pete Holmes, being fourth in line when the store opened at noon Tuesday.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

You see, it doesn’t really matter where you stand on the legalization of marijuana issue. Some say it’s like D Day. To others it’s more like Pearl Harbor. It matters not. The fact is that, legally speaking, this was an historic day in the history of Washington State.

I remember years ago selecting a jury on a big pot case. “Biggest Pot Bust in Island County History!!!” said the Whidbey News Times, that bastion of journalistic accuracy. [Funny part about that was it was only twelve pounds and we were simultaneously working on sixty pounds found in a tire buried in a back yard in Oak Harbor. But, who were we to say anything?]

There was a tall, elegant man seated in the front row of the jury panel, Osh Kosh overalls and all. I half expected him to be chewin’ on some timothy. (Turns out he owned the best dairy farm which happened to be the best piece of undeveloped real estate on the island at the time.) The prosecutor saw a right wing conservative. I saw a farmer.

So, the prosecutor called Mr. Farmer up to explain his sacred opinion about the war on drugs to the kind people of the jury, expecting a scathing indictment of my liberal commie ways.

“Well,” he said. “If ya ask me, the ‘war on drugs’ is just some fancy excuse for a bunch of crooked cops and crooked prosecutors to get together and pad their pockets at the expense of the rest of us law abiding citizens.”

I wanted to run over and hug him.

Those of us who have represented people accused of possessing or selling or growing or smuggling marijuana over the past decades have seen first hand the impact of the drug laws when it comes to marijuana. Again– It just does not matter where you stand on the issue. Facts are facts. Enormous amounts of time and energy and people power and, above all, money have been spent in the “Just Say No” effort. An effort that has more or less just come crashing down overnight. It makes any thinking person wonder what it was all about.

Which brings us back to City Attorney Holmes.

In a way, the most shocking thing I have seen about all of this, is the Seattle City Attorney brandishing his legal ganja in front of TV cameras. That’s because that singular grandstanding moment, albeit profound in its own way, represents the biggest “radically new thing” I have seen happen with my own two eyes since the whole legalization thing happened many months ago.

Me? I was on my way speeding past that media circus, high overhead, tempting fate while careening along that death trap, the Viaduct, listening to the live radio coverage beaming up from SODO down below me, tempted to make a quick detour to at least grab a photo of history in the making. But, I was rushing between a three hour client conference at the Federal Detention Center in Seatac to an important court date downtown. (DUI dropped down to a Neg I). And besides…. What self respecting attorney would want to be caught on national TV standing outside a head shop on steroids surrounded by a bunch of dread lock rasta vagabonds, looking for all the world like just another stoner, except wearing a suit? Well, in Seattle, apparently the City Attorney does! Hope he wasn’t driving.

Other than that, not much is else new around here. Seattle took its typical Scandinavian methodical responsible yet fundamentally radical and fiercely independent approach to the whole process. (Remember, they practically invented such advanced legal concepts as community property and sentencing guidelines here before virtually any other states had even thought of it.)

I mean, one pot store in the entire greater Seattle area? Seriously? In Denver they had one on every corner the day after their law passed, which incidentally is the same day we passed ours. Go figure. Buncha cowboys to our mellow tree huggers I guess. Either way, Washington is doing its best to make sure that the entire process is carefully regulated and controlled. This ain’t no hemp fest Woodstock type affair. We can be proud of the way our lawmakers and law enforcement have handled every aspect of this significant change to our existing laws. Maybe that’s why nothing much seems very different, other than our stoner City Attorney waving around baggies on TV. I wonder if he knows that mayor from Toronto?


These days kids duck behind dumpsters in Ballard on Friday nights, sneaking around outside the music clubs and bars, toking up and laughing at nothing. But that could easily be ten years ago. Thirty, for that matter. Nothing’s changed. The more things change the more they stay the same.

And, that’s the point. The legalization of marijuana is simply a reflection of what already is. Like it or not. The change in the law, by definition, reflects what the majority of the voting public believes. That is how our country is supposed to work. At least that’s what they taught us in law school.

This change is not really a change at all. It’s a fix. Fixing the law to reflect the majority opinion. As it should be. And, as it is. Here in Washington.

Eat your heart out, California.