Last November, voters in Washington state overwhelmingly approved to legalize the sale, possession (up to one ounce) and private use of marijuana. While marijuana use has been legal since December, the retailing part of the legislation doesn’t kick in until this December 1st (hence the notion of the “Magic Ounce” — legal to smoke, illegal to buy). There are a lot of intricacies to the legislation, and the Washington State Liquor Board is in the process of setting official guidelines for retailers.
Meanwhile, this weekend marks the first Hempfest under the new state law. For years, the annual celebration of marijuana culture at Myrtle Edwards Park was rife with very open use of the green stuff. Because marijuana possession before the new law was legally classified as a low priority, police often looked the other way. Now, it’s even less of a priority. Thus, Seattle police are using this year’s festival as an opportunity to educate attendees on the new laws — in a way that will assuredly appeal to stoners:
“Distributing salty snacks at a festival celebrating hemp, I think, is deliberately ironic enough that people will accept them in good humor,” says police department spokesman Sergeant Sean Whitcomb. “We want to make sure people learn the rules and that they respect the vote.”
Seargent Whitcomb also reassured everyone that police will not be issuing tickets for public consumption this weekend:
“We’ve said all along that this is a momentous period in our history. We only get to do it once,” says Whitcomb. “Our department has taken a leadership role in public education, and it’s a responsibility we are taking very seriously. We are not looking to have a heavy hand when it comes to enforcement. That said, the rules are the rules, and we want people to voluntarily comply with them.”