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Seattle Mulls Ordinance to Fine Public Pot Smokers

Ted S. Warren
Associated Press

Seattle city leaders are considering an ordinance that would fine public pot smokers about $100 each.

City leaders agree that while the state works to figure out how to regulate marijuana, it’s important for citizens to remember there are still laws governing its use.

“We want to make it plain that marijuana is to be used responsibly,” Seattle City attorney Pete Holmes told Seattle City Council members Friday. “And that means not in public use, not in areas where families or their young children might be, that we start to have a healthier attitude toward adult consumption.”

The ordinance could generate some money for the city. But Holmes said a major reason for it is to give police added leverage in curbing unwanted behavior like smoking pot on a sidewalk, or in a park.

But police spokesman Sean Whitcomb said even if the ordinance passes, officers aren’t likely to be handing out tickets anytime soon.

“The chief of police has said that our preferred method of enforcement is education and warning,” said Whitcomb.

A different city law makes adult pot possession a low priority. And most of the time, Whitcomb said a uniformed officer asking someone to put out a joint is enough to get them to stop.

Seattle police say they have not seen a marked increase in pot smoking since marijuana became legal.