News » Tacoma, Washington Passes Lowest Priority Initiative
November 11, 2011 by Aaron Turpen
Voters in Tacoma, Washington have overwhelmingly approved an initiative that directs the city to make adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority. A 65% majority carried the day.
The initiative, called the Cannabis Reform Act for the City of Tacoma (I-1), directs Tacoma PD and prosecutors to make the “investigation, arrest and prosecution of cannabis (a/k/a ‘marijuana’) offenses the lowest enforcement priority, as this term may be defined in their policies and procedures manuals, for adult personal use.”
Medical marijuana activists were out in force to support the initiative, saying it would make it safer for patients to consume their medicine without fear of being “carded” or detained unnecessarily when they do so. The prosecutor’s office claims that marijuana possession offenses are already a low priority, so the initiative doesn’t really change much.
I-3′s passage puts Tacoma on par with its close neighbor, Seattle, which passed a similar initiative in 2003. In that city, prosecutions went from hundreds annually to barely dozens. In the past few months, only one prosecution has taken place, in fact.
In Tacoma, despite the prosecutor’s claim, 463 reported marijuana possession cases were brought up last year. “If that’s low priority,” says marijuana activist JP Diggins in Tacoma, “I’d hate to see high priority.”
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