Voters Legalize Marijuana, States Dismiss Hundreds of Pending Marijuana Cases

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive 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. kyle says:

      Wish they would legalize in pennsylvania already. But I think its great to see it starting to legalize in some states. I think itl mello out a lot of stressed and bugged out people 🙂

    2. Robert says:

      Are they freeing people have already been jailed?

      [Paul Armentano responds: The law is not retroactive.]

    3. Clay Travis says:

      I so jellious of the freedom people have in Washington and Colorado. If I smoked a joint I could go to jail and loose my job. I would be runied for life. I would love to sell my house and move to Colorado, and leave this backwards ass place I live here in Kentucky!

    4. D says:

      I’m sitting here hoping for Florida to add it’s name to the list. Where are we on that?

    5. Harry Houston says:

      The Government has told you and I, that Marijuana is a “Schedule one” controlled substance. Schedule I, meaning little to no use, strong potential for abuse/addiction, and danger to persons using it.
      The government actually holds patents for the medical use of the plant.
      Please peruse US Patent 6630507 titled “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” which is assigned to The United States of America, as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services.
      Source info is: http://www.patentstorm.us/search.html?q=6630507&s.x=12&s.y=16
      I must ask; what is going on??? The U.S. war on Marijuana has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives – and for what?

      Thank you.
      Harry Houston

    6. Harry Houston says:

      To anyone who uses Marijuana or hemp in any way: Would you vote for someone that will use your tax money to put you in jail for doing so?

    7. Dr.ROC says:

      in my life time ,never thought i would see it.

    8. Drifter says:

      Congratulations Rhode Island and Main! Now could someone please tell me the status on marijuana reform in South Carolina? I don’t think there even considering it for medical use. There hasn’t been an update to the news section on this site about South Carolina since 15 Apr 2004. Maybe someone from the NORML chapter in Columbia, SC could give us an update. Fingers crossed.

      BTW thanks for all your hard work NORML.

    9. Harry Houston says:

      All PEOPLE imprisoned for cannabis use/possession Should be set free and be given a full pardon

    10. Esther Jimenez says:

      This is all good. It’s a step in the right direction to legalize marijuana because of the many positive benefits.