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Seattle City Attorney Seeks To Drop All Marijuana Tickets

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
File - This Dec. 6, 2013, file photo shows Toby Tackett lighting a marijuana joint at a pot party at the Seattle Center, in Seattle.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes says he isn’t promoting the use of marijuana in public, but he is calling for all the tickets issued for public pot smoking between Jan. 1 and July 31 to be thrown out.

While possessing recreational marijuana is legal in Washington, smoking or using it in public is not. You can get a ticket and a $27 fine.

But  recent revelations show that the majority of such tickets given in Seattle were written by one officer, Randy Jokela, who put snarky comments about the city attorney and the law on some citations. He is now under investigation.

Tickets also went disproportionately to African Americans and people who are homeless.

Given all that, says Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, it’s time to hit the reset button.

“This is not about promoting a smoke-in in downtown Seattle. It’s about trying to embrace a new and much more sound policy,” Holmes told the Seattle City Council.

That policy, Holmes says, would promote educating people over ticketing them and would issue tickets in a more equitable manner. The Seattle Police Department is promoting similar changes.

Holmes was an outspoken advocate for legalizing marijuana in Washington. He was also one of the first people in Seattle to legally purchase it.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.