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New Initiative Hopes to Shift Seattle's Drug New Initiative Hopes to Shift Seattle's Drug

By Sara Longley

Mar 14, 2002 -- America's continuing war on drugs affects us all, whether we are law-abiding citizens or hardened criminals. It does this, among other ways, by depriving us of funding for vital services. The sponsors of newly-filed Initiative 75 hope to change that, at least within Seattle, by shifting the city's priorities away from marijuana enforcement.

The initiative reads in part, "The Seattle Police Department and City Attorney's Office shall make the investigation, arrest and prosecution of marijuana offenses, where the marijuana was intended for adult personal use, the City's lowest law enforcement priority." According to Dominic Holden of I-75's sponsoring group, Sensible Seattle, the wording of the initiative is mild because state law prevents individual cities from passing laws that contradict the state's legislation. This makes it impossible for a city initiative to decriminalize marijuana possession or use. So, Holden says, "This is the strongest language we have."

"I think the initiative makes sense," said City Councilmember Nick Licata, who attended the I-75 kickoff party last Monday. "It may not really have that much impact, because we already have other priorities for drug busts...but it's a step in the right direction."

Will the initiative stand a chance? Holden says yes and bases his hope on a poll recently conducted by the Evans/McDonough Company. The poll revealed that 49 percent of Seattleites favor the initiative.

Thirty-five percent oppose it, and 17 percent are undecided. If initiative backers can convince even one percent of those undecided voters, the measure will pass. Initiative backers have to collect 18,000 signatures in order to get I-75 onto the November ballot. Signature gathering will kick off on March 17 with a volunteer orientation. Those interested in getting involved should e-mail or visit to find out more.


Arresting responsible adults for possessing small amounts of marijuana is simply unfair.

March 12, 2002 Update: The Seattle City Attorney has approved I-75! We now have until August to collect the required signatures. Print I-75 and begin gathering signatures today!

Will Seattle will be the first major U.S. city where honest, hardworking adults will not have to worry about being arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana? Yes.

You have an opportunity to do something historic this year. The Sensible Seattle Coalition has drafted a 'Sensible Marijuana Enforcement Policy' initiative for the city's voters. If it passes in 2002, the arrest and prosecution of marijuana offenses, where the marijuana is intended for adult personal use, will be Seattle's lowest law enforcement priority.

Currently, under Washington State Law, citizens could be forced to serve up to 90 days in jail and pay a $1,000 fine for possessing as little as one gram of marijuana! Arresting and prosecuting otherwise law-abiding adults who contibute to their communities is wrong. Our tax dollars and policing efforts should go to stopping dangerous and violent crime. We cannot continue to clog our courts and burden our legal system arresting and prosecuting ordinary people who choose to smoke marijuana resposibly. It simply isn't fair.

Enforcement of drug policies has fallen mostly on Seattle's minority neighborhoods. Despite use of marijuana by all types of people throughout Seattle's neighborhoods, a vastly diproportionate number of those arrested are African American or Latino. African Americans comprise 12% of the nation's population, and 13% of its drug users, yet they account for one third of all drug-related arrests and nearly two thirds of all convictions. Drug profiling is profoundly racist. Worse than ineffective, drug profiling has caused far more harm than good in communities of color.

Middle-income and lower-income students are routinely denied federal education loans where applicant students have been convicted of possessing even small amounts of marijuana. Many intellegent and capable students lose their opportunity to attend college due to recent Congressional amendments to the Higher Education Act. Denying financial aid to students hurts only those students who need the aid, namely, children of working families.

This initiative calls for enforcement officals and prosecutors to focus their efforts on protecting Seattle citizens and make Seattle a safe place for everyone. This initiative is the democratic voice of Seattle taxpayers, families and voters of Seattle we demand our call for sensible marijuana guidelines.

Thank you,

Sensible Seattle Coalition

-- Cherri (, March 25, 2002


I remember the 60's, after a Jimi Hendrix concert let out and people walked around the Seattle Center freely smoking joints. Saw my younger brother with one and slapped it out of his hand and smashed it with my shoe, he was only taking a hit from someone else, who was not pleased with my action *grin*. People used to sit on the little hills on the "Center" grounds, playing guitars, sining and smoking pot.

I guess I just didn't have what it took to be a hippie, I went off and joined the war.

I think it is stupid for the jails to be filled with people who are busted for smoking a joint, even though I don't touch the stuff myself.

-- Cherri (, March 25, 2002.

I touched quite a bit of "the stuff" - way back when. Then one day I said to myself, "I'm not enjoying this any more." That's the day I quit. In the next couple of years I tried it maybe twice, to see if anything had changed. It hadn't. The idea that anyone should be imprisoned for possession of marijuana, when you can buy alcohol three places in every city block, is well beyond bizarre to me.

It should be legalized the whole nine yards -- use, possession, growing, and sales -- subject to taxes, of course. Then Phillip Morris and the government will have another cash cow and we can let about 400,000 people out of jail. Just think! State governments will be rolling in new revenues almost immediately.

Q: Why did the moron keep hitting himself in the head with a hammer?
A: Because it felt so good when he stopped!

This old joke encapsulates what happens every time society tries to enforce a prohibition on activities like smoking, drinking, or sex.

-- Little Nipper (, March 25, 2002.

playing guitars, sining (sinning?-probably that too), singing and smoking pot

-- Cherri (, March 27, 2002.

playing guitars, sining (sinning?-probably that too), singing and smoking pot forgetting to close your tags is a netique sin *grin*

-- Cherri (, March 27, 2002.

forgetting how many tags to close is a double sin...sigh

-- Cherri (, March 27, 2002.

Sounds like a step in the right direction, to me. I think it was Britain that recently announced a study stating that marijuana smoking was not injurious to health. D'Oh! Like we didn't know that all along?

I LOVED it, and I'm sure I'd STILL love it. I went through the period wherein I looked at myself and wondered if my then almost 2- year old should be telling folks that HER mom smoked cigarettes with a bobby-pin, and combined with plans of a trip to Norway [where the laws may be totally different], I decided to stop. I've smoked a few times since, but never anything constant...usually a friend stopping by for a chat on the patio or something.

-- Anita (, March 27, 2002.

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