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Seattle City Attorney Seeks Ways to Accomodate Marijuana Tourists

Associated Press

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holes said he is working on ways to accommodate “marijuana tourists” who might face barriers to partaking in legal pot.

Holmes pointed out to a Seattle City Council committee that rules banning consumption in public, which he supports, could make it harder for out-of-towners to participate. Most of those people would presumable stay in hotels, where smoking is banned.

“We need to recognize that tourists coming to this state to sample wines, to sample Washington marijuana, to sample any of the attributes of this destination city, that we accommodate them somehow,” he said.

Holmes said his office is working on solutions to that issue.

The council’s Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee passed two related measures, initiated by Holmes, to tighten up rules around smoking pot in public. State law already includes a fine for doing so, but Holmes wants to substitute a local ordinance inside Seattle. That would give the city control over the money, and as he puts it, provide clarity to police.

“We’re no longer asking them to enforce an unenforceable and poor government policy of prohibition. And now we want them to join us in this new regulatory system,” he said.

The council’s measures include some changesfrom Holmes’s original proposal. The fine was reduced to $27 plus fees, the same as for drinking in public. The measure states that police intend to verbally warn people before they ticket them for public marijuana consumption. And it provides for follow-up analysis of the racial and demographic impacts.

The measures will go to the full council next.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.