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Voters Legalize Marijuana, States Dismiss Hundreds of Pending Marijuana Cases

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director November 15, 2012

    Many wondered just what the exact effects of passing a marijuana legalization law would be. Some speculated no good would come of passing a state law while it is still in conflict with federal law. Now that we are a few weeks out from passing the two very first marijuana legalization measures in this country, we are beginning to have answers to these questions.

    In addition to the legalization of personal possession (and cultivation of 6 plants in Colorado) that is set to go into effect on December 6th in Washington and no later than the first week of January in Colorado, we are beginning to see more positive benefits from the success of these two initiatives. Last week, two of the largest counties in Washington State, King and Pierce Counties, dismissed all pending marijuana possession cases. Clark County dismissed its cases in the days that followed. This week, Boulder County in Colorado dismissed all their pending cases and Spokane is preparing to dismiss many of theirs. It is likely that this trend will continue as we move forward and further counties in both states will also dismiss any of their pending marijuana possession cases.

    So, what is the immediate result of the legalization votes on November 6th? Hundreds people will now avoid being tagged with permanent criminal records, will no longer have to appear in court and lose money and time defending themselves for a minor marijuana charge, will no longer have trouble finding employment because of a possession conviction on their record, and will no longer have to spend the mandatory 24 hours in jail that was mandated by Washington State law prior to the passage of I-502. These citizens are simply the first to benefit, there will now be tens of thousands of Americans in Colorado and Washington who won’t have to feel like criminals, pay fines, or serve jail time for the non-violent act of recreationally consuming cannabis.

    And, by the way, the rest of the country is taking notice. If you haven’t heard, Rhode Island and Maine will be introducing legalization measures into their state legislatures today.

    UPDATE: 11/16/2012

    Just in from Denver 9news, more counties are stopping enforcement of marijuana possession in light of Amendment 64 and are considering dropping pending cases.

    9News: Denver, other cities to limit pot prosecutions

    In Denver, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey’s office confirmed they don’t anticipate any new charges will be filed for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana for anyone 21 and older, effective immediately. This is provided it is the only offense that would warrant a citation.

    Additionally, the approximately 70 pending marijuana possession of less than on ounce cases in Denver will be individually reviewed to determine if charges will be dropped.

    According to Denver District Attorney Office spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough, if the possession charge is combined with other charges, the case will most likely not be dismissed.

    In Grand Junction, police have already been told to stop issuing ounce-or-less marijuana tickets, according to police documents obtained by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

    Routt County District Attorney Brett Barkey says he plans to meet with senior staff members Thursday to decide whether to proceed with prosecuting petty marijuana cases that are pending in the courts.

    Full Article

    112 Responses to “Voters Legalize Marijuana, States Dismiss Hundreds of Pending Marijuana Cases”

    1. Skitskats says:

      If He’s serving a sentence for Cannabis in Canada then We should All sign hid petition to serve the remainder of his time in Canada Chimes of Freedom!!!!

    2. Skitskats says:

      So the police won’t charge You for an ounce or less Will they allow You too keep Your herb or will they still be confiscating it I think it’s like a no brainer That was always one of the worst things about prohibition It’s like sure let me pay Your stupid fine At least let me keep my herb instead of incinerating it along with crack,heroin, and methamphetymine Or reselling it on the street At least could We mantain a minimal level of human dignity in a free society The land of Liberty

      [Paul Armentano responds: You write, "Will they allow You too keep Your herb or will they still be confiscating it." Answer: No, police will not be able to confiscate it because the product is now legal. This is one of the key differences between legalization and decriminalization. Under decriminalization, cannabis remains contraband and police are legally obligated to seize it. Under legalization, cannabis is no longer contraband and police do not possess the legal authority to confiscate it unless there are extenuating circumstances.]

    3. [...] throughout Colorado and Washington state continue to dismiss hundreds of pending misdemeanor marijuana possession [...]

    4. john says:

      I propose this very interesting question? Would the states of CO. and WA. have all assets seized for receiving profit, (tax revenue on cannabis) under federal law?
      “Very Interesting”

      [Editor's note: The answer is already known and thankfully it is 'no'. States like CO, NM, ME, NJ and VT already currently run afoul of the feds by allowing retail sales, issuing licenses and taking in tax revenue regarding cannabis under the guise of medical use.

      What have the feds done to these states? Have they seized a red penny of these states' new found cannabis revenue?

      Nada. Nullity. Zilch.

      Same will likely be the case regarding non-medical legalization as well.]

    5. john says:

      Thank you editor for answering my question, however this would not be under the guise of medical, this would be of personal non-medical use. I could be wrong?
      peace john PA.

      [Editor's note: Both 'medical' and 'recreational' are illegal under federal law...seems rather unlikely that feds will raid and harass state governments for recreational industry, while turning blind eye to medical industry.]

    6. Thomas Mullins says:

      A lot of Texans are supporting this initiative unfortunately Texas will likely be one of the more difficult states to legalize in. Has there been any positive movement toward a federal law change or would it take more than a simple majority vote to change the federal policy? It seems more likely that a federal policy change will accrue sooner than all the states.

    7. [...] throughout Colorado and Washington state continue to dismiss hundreds of pending misdemeanor marijuana possession [...]

    8. [...] throughout Colorado and Washington state continue to dismiss hundreds of pending misdemeanor marijuana possession [...]

    9. Wieland says:

      Whats going to happen in the courts when it comes to distinguishing the difference between usage and impairment? The courts still havn’t realized there is a difference between usage and impaiment. Knowing the difference will determine when the courts can prosecute employees and/or employers for employment drug policies. There will be allot of misunderstandings and law suits for urine drug tests. The current urine tests only test for metabolites which shows usage. Not the active THC in the blood that causes impaiment. So even though legalization has begun there is still allot of work to do if people don’t want thier privacy invaded or discriminated against using marijuana on their own time.

    10. Would you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back
      to your site: http://blog.norml.org/2012/11/15/voters-legalize-marijuana-states-dismiss-marijuana-cases/.
      I’ll aslo make sure to give you the proper anchortext hyperlink using your website title: Voters Legalize Marijuana, States Dismiss Marijuana Cases | NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform. Please let me know if this is acceptable with you. Thanks!

    11. Mike says:

      I am currently on probation in Boulder, CO for marijuana possession of less than an ounce. I am over 21 and have been on probation for over a year and nothing has changed for me. In short, Boulder county has not dismissed all pending marijuana cases for minor possession.

    12. Some Guy says:

      Mike, if your on probation that means you have already been through the court and convicted. I think this only brings hope to those who have not been through the system yet.

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