To all the jokers, smokers and midnight tokers out there, it’s safe to come outside: Initiative 1 has passed.
With 64.7% of the votes, one might even say it smoked the competition (that pun might actually be more criminal than marijuana now).
In jubilant response, a recent Trib article suggested advocates new attitude could best be summarized as ”Ladies and gentlemen, start your bongs.”
Sherry Bockwinkel, one of the measure’s co-petitioner’s, was thus quoted, “Lowest enforcement means lowest enforcement. That means no arrests for marijuana possession under 40 grams, period.”
Not so fast.
True, this vote is a clear victory for legalized marijuana advocates, and a concrete stepping stone towards eventual legalization in our state. The federal government, well, let’s just say it remains unimpressed with the movement thus far.
But this vote still leaves the label of criminal activity clearly attached to pot. While the measure’s strong passage does allow (encourage would be a better word) police officers to forego arrests for marijuana, absent a prescription it still remains a crime.
Before you rush to the comment section to grammatically kill the messenger, consider that police officials calmly report that TPD is already walking the I-1 walk. As proof they point to the almost non-existent marijuana prosecutions in the last year or more.
The message here is that marijuana users (script holders or not) should expect that the level of enforcement prior to I-1’s passage will likely resemble that in most future scenarios.
Consider two such possible scenarios.
1) Two subjects are stopped by police while walking through the park after hours. An officer smells a strong odor of burning green vegetable matter (court lingo) coming from one of the subjects, and asks about it. The offender is compliant and brings forth the joint he was smoking. The officer recognizes that public safety is not an issue here, and he directs the subject to discard the joint and go home.
2) A police officer stops a car for erratic driving. When she approaches the driver’s window it rolls down, emitting a huge cloud of pungent smoke that blows into her face from the driver’s seat. Aside from any potential DUI charges, the officer makes a marijuana arrest in the good of public safety.
While these outcomes are conjecture, the many scenarios and situations wherein officers make contact with subjects recreationally using marijuana are often not as straightforward. Until the legislature or the electorate abandon statutes prohibiting marijuana, the public must know that it is still illegal.
At least for now. The future may render this entire argument moot. With I-1 now in the books, the day when marijuana may be legal just got a lot closer.