Marijuana Law Takes Effect Today; Celebrations Planned - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Marijuana Law Takes Effect Today; What You Need To Know

SEATTLE (AP) - Legal marijuana possession becomes a reality in Washington state Thursday, and some people plan to celebrate the new law by breaking it.

Voters in Washington and Colorado last month made those the first states to decriminalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana. Washington's law takes effect Thursday and allows adults to have up to an ounce of pot - but it bans public use of marijuana, which is punishable by a fine, just like drinking in public.

Nevertheless, some people planned to gather at 12 a.m. Thursday to smoke up beneath Seattle's Space Needle. Others planned to party outside Hempfest headquarters in Seattle.

Seattle Police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb doesn't expect officers to write many tickets. Thanks to a 2003 law, marijuana enforcement remains the department's lowest priority.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Seattle police address new Wash. marijuana law
    
SEATTLE (AP) - With marijuana possession now legal in Washington state, the Seattle Police Department has given its officers some guidance on what to do about public use of pot, which is still banned.
    
In an email to officers, the department told them they should only issue verbal warnings in cases of public marijuana use "until further notice."
    
Police spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee wrote on the SPD Blotter that officers will be advising people to take their weed inside.
    
Or as Spangenthal-Lee put it: "The police department believes that, under state law, you may responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a 'Lord of the Rings' marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to."
    
Voters in Washington and Colorado last month made those the first states to decriminalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana. Washington's law takes effect Thursday and allows adults to have up to an ounce of pot.

PREVIOUS STORY:

STORY BY JIM CAMDEN AT THE SPOKESMAN: When the clock ticks past midnight tonight, Washington will have the most permissive law in the nation regarding marijuana, thanks to voters who approved Initiative 502.

But the new law isn't a blanket license for anyone to smoke marijuana anywhere, anytime. There are restrictions within the law, and some items that must still be settled, either by state agencies or the courts. Here are some answers to common questions about what changes in state marijuana laws Thursday.

Q. Can I legally have marijuana?

A. If you are under 21, no, just like alcohol. Over 21, yes, with some notable exceptions. If you live or work in a place that has federal legal restrictions on drugs, state law doesn't override those restrictions.

Q. Is there a limit to how much I can have?

A. For adults the limit is 1 ounce per person. It is also legal to have up to 16 ounces of a marijuana-infused product, such as baked goods with the drug cooked into it. Above an ounce, current laws apply, so having up to 40 grams – slightly less than an ounce and a half – is a misdemeanor, and having more than 40 grams is a Class C felony. A minor with an ounce or less can be cited for a civil infraction; for other amounts, the law is the same as for an adult. Mary Muramatsu, an assistant Spokane city prosecutor, said there will be a zero-tolerance policy for minors with marijuana.

Q. OK, I'm an adult. Can I smoke marijuana anywhere?

A. No. You cannot smoke (or otherwise consume) marijuana in a public place, which would include parks, stores, restaurants, malls and sidewalks. You can smoke in your private residence or someone else's if they don't object.

Q. That could be a problem because my spouse and most of my friends don't allow smoking in the house. Can I go outside and smoke?

A. Maybe. In a home you have "a reasonable expectation of privacy," Spokane City Attorney Nancy Isserlis said. But if you're smoking on the front porch and your house is on a busy street, it could be a problem. "There are some nuances to the law that have to be worked out," she said.

Q. Can I drive while smoking marijuana?

A. Bad idea. Having a lit marijuana cigarette while driving is a civil infraction, akin to having an open container of alcohol in the car, even if you aren't impaired. Just like there's a legal limit for your blood-alcohol content, starting Thursday there is a limit for the amount of active cannabis agent in your bloodstream. It's 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, and some critics of the law say that's very low for regular users. Go over and it's an automatic ticket for driving under the influence.

Q. How will that be measured?

A. It requires a blood test.

Q. So police will do blood draws on the side of the road?

A. No. If they suspect you of being under the influence – a Washington State Patroltrooper might call a drug recognition expert if one is available – you will be informed of the state's "implied consent" law and asked to take a blood test at a local medical facility. Refusing a blood test will be like refusing a breath test for alcohol consumption: You could lose your license through an administrative procedure, and the fact that you refused could be introduced as evidence if you try to fight the DUI charge in court.

Q. From whom may I legally buy marijuana?

A. Short answer: No one right now. Long explanation: The law says the state Liquor Control Board will set up a system to regulate and tax the growing, processing and distribution of marijuana. But the state has until next December to do that. In the meantime, WSP troopers and other officers are directed that growing or selling any amount is still a crime.

Q. Can I buy it legally from a medical marijuana dispensary?

A. Only if you have a doctor's recommendation to use marijuana for a medical problem. State laws for medical marijuana, which have different limits for possession of the drug and their own legal problems with production and sale, don't change on Thursday. Neither does the conflict between state and federal laws over marijuana. If anything, that gets more complicated.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Man arrested in North Spokane for assaulting ex-girlfriend

    Man arrested in North Spokane for assaulting ex-girlfriend

    Friday, September 22 2017 2:25 AM EDT2017-09-22 06:25:16 GMT
    Man arrested in North Spokane for assaulting ex-girlfriendMan arrested in North Spokane for assaulting ex-girlfriend

    SPOKANE, Wash. - On September 21st, just before 5:30 pm Officers responded to a home in the area of Mansfield and Ash. A woman told police that her ex-boyfriend, 22-year-old Brandon Vanlanham, was assaulting her. The woman stated she had a restraining order against Vanlanham, which Police confirmed. When officers arrived to the home, they discovered that Vanlanham had fled the scene.  About two hours later the woman called 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - On September 21st, just before 5:30 pm Officers responded to a home in the area of Mansfield and Ash. A woman told police that her ex-boyfriend, 22-year-old Brandon Vanlanham, was assaulting her. The woman stated she had a restraining order against Vanlanham, which Police confirmed. When officers arrived to the home, they discovered that Vanlanham had fled the scene.  About two hours later the woman called 

    >>
  • Toddler dies after being hit by truck in church parking lot

    Toddler dies after being hit by truck in church parking lot

    Thursday, September 21 2017 8:21 PM EDT2017-09-22 00:21:04 GMT

    PARKLAND, Wash. (AP) - An 18-month-old girl has died after she was struck by a truck in the parking lot of a church in Parkland. The Pierce County Sheriff's Department says the girl was taken to a hospital late Tuesday where she died of her injuries. The department says a 35-year-old female driver had been parked in front of the Lamb of God Christian Community Church Tuesday night. After talking to a relative, the woman pulled her truck 

    >>

    PARKLAND, Wash. (AP) - An 18-month-old girl has died after she was struck by a truck in the parking lot of a church in Parkland. The Pierce County Sheriff's Department says the girl was taken to a hospital late Tuesday where she died of her injuries. The department says a 35-year-old female driver had been parked in front of the Lamb of God Christian Community Church Tuesday night. After talking to a relative, the woman pulled her truck 

    >>
  • Argument between friends outside Buffalo Wild Wings ends in shooting

    Argument between friends outside Buffalo Wild Wings ends in shooting

    Thursday, September 21 2017 5:20 PM EDT2017-09-21 21:20:42 GMT

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Detectives arrested a 42-year-old man for two counts of 1st Degree Assault Wednesday night after an argument turned violent. The Spokane Valley Police Department says Chad Dobson asked a friend to meet at Buffalo Wild Wings Wednesday night to talk about the victim's treatment of his soon-to-be ex-wife. 

    >>

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Detectives arrested a 42-year-old man for two counts of 1st Degree Assault Wednesday night after an argument turned violent. The Spokane Valley Police Department says Chad Dobson asked a friend to meet at Buffalo Wild Wings Wednesday night to talk about the victim's treatment of his soon-to-be ex-wife. 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Ex-Mafia Hit Man ‘Sammy the Bull’ Gravano Released From Federal Prison

    Ex-Mafia Hit Man ‘Sammy the Bull’ Gravano Released From Federal Prison

    Friday, September 22 2017 9:06 AM EDT2017-09-22 13:06:55 GMT

    PHOENIX — Former Mafia hit man Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano has been released early from federal prison after serving most of a 20-year sentence for drug-related convictions in Arizona and New York, his attorney said Thursday. Thomas Farinella said his 72-year-old client was released Monday, but wouldn't disclose where Gravano served his time or where he plans to live now that he's a free man.

    >>

    PHOENIX — Former Mafia hit man Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano has been released early from federal prison after serving most of a 20-year sentence for drug-related convictions in Arizona and New York, his attorney said Thursday. Thomas Farinella said his 72-year-old client was released Monday, but wouldn't disclose where Gravano served his time or where he plans to live now that he's a free man.

    >>
  • Coeur d’Alene armed robbery suspect arrested thanks to tips from citizens

    Friday, September 22 2017 7:55 AM EDT2017-09-22 11:55:36 GMT

    UPDATE: Detectives with the Coeur d’Alene Police Department were able to identify and arrest Christopher N Guinasso for the armed robbery at Jordan’s Grocery on September 20, 2017. Guinasso is a 20 year old male from Coeur d’Alene. He was booked into the Kootenai County Jail for one count of Robbery.

    >>

    UPDATE: Detectives with the Coeur d’Alene Police Department were able to identify and arrest Christopher N Guinasso for the armed robbery at Jordan’s Grocery on September 20, 2017. Guinasso is a 20 year old male from Coeur d’Alene. He was booked into the Kootenai County Jail for one count of Robbery.

    >>
  • After murder conviction and suicide, Aaron Hernandez found to have sever CTE

    After murder conviction and suicide, Aaron Hernandez found to have sever CTE

    Friday, September 22 2017 7:47 AM EDT2017-09-22 11:47:13 GMT

    KHQ.COM - A lawyer for Aaron Hernandez says the brain of the former Patriots tight end showed he had stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — a type of traumatic brain injury that can only be diagnosed postmortem. Researchers at Boston University said the late 27-year-old had the worst case of CTE they had ever seen in a person his age, stating that his brain resembled that of a 67-year-old football player.

    >>

    KHQ.COM - A lawyer for Aaron Hernandez says the brain of the former Patriots tight end showed he had stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — a type of traumatic brain injury that can only be diagnosed postmortem. Researchers at Boston University said the late 27-year-old had the worst case of CTE they had ever seen in a person his age, stating that his brain resembled that of a 67-year-old football player.

    >>