On Eve Of Legalization, Concerns About Pot Law Remain

Dec 6, 2012

At the stroke of midnight, adult marijuana users will no longer be lawbreakers in Washington. But lots of legal questions remain about how marijuana commerce will work, where it’s legal to use and how the federal government will respond.

Two pieces of Initiative 502, the ballot measure legalizing pot, are taking effect December 6th: allowing possession of up to an ounce, and a legal blood limit for driving. But selling marijuana is and will remain illegal: Only the state-regulated stores will be able to do that, and those are at least a year away. So adults 21 and over can have it, but there’s no legal way to get it. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said it may be a little messy, but that’s to be expected.

Holmes: “We’re in uncharted territory here. And we are trying to substitute a legal, licensed system for what is nearly a wholly illegal system, and that is going to take time."

Another open question is just where people will be allowed to use marijuana. The law bans use in view of the public, but it's not always clear what that covers. Holmes says people are sure to test the limits, and the particulars will get worked out by the cops, courts and lawmakers. The testing appears to be starting right away: a group is already planning a celebratory “smoke-in” Thursday at Seattle Center’s International Fountain.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio