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November 21, 2009 -- KUOW News (WA)

Seattle City Attorney Peter Holmes Backs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

By Amy Radil, KUOW News

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive


Incoming Seattle City Attorney Peter Holmes says he s still stunned by his election victory over incumbent Tom Carr. One area where Holmes hopes to bring change is in the city s attitudes toward marijuana enforcement. Holmes says he has no plans to charge anyone with simple marijuana possession. And he s supporting a state bill to decriminalize small amounts of pot altogether.

Newly elected city attorney Peter Holmes says the transition process is more chaotic and uncharted than he expected. He will take office in January. Holmes says the success of his "outsider " campaign has clearly left employees with the city s legal department nervous, and he s trying to change that.

Holmes: "And I m also in the process of reaching out to a 159 employee law department trying to calm them, that this is going to be a very deliberate process, that I m going through. That I m going to meet every one of them and talk with them before any decisions are made. "

Holmes spoke as part of a panel hosted by the Metropolitan Democratic Club in downtown Seattle Wednesday. The focus was drug policy, specifically a bill that would make possession of small amounts of marijuana in Washington state a civil offense, punished with a $100 fine. The bill will be introduced in the next session of the state legislature. Holmes says he supports the bill as a way for governments to save money and jail space. He says he won t pursue any charges of simple possession once he takes office.

Holmes: "My hope is if this bill passes there will be no more misdemeanor marijuana charges to prosecute. And so if it passes in this session in the interim we re not going to bring any more charges. There are other more important, more pressing public safety matters in need of attention with the limited resources we have. "

Holmes says Tom Carr has used marijuana possession as an "add on " charge, but has not charged people for possession alone. So their approaches aren t drastically different. Seattle voters made marijuana possession the city s lowest law enforcement priority in a 2003 vote.

Also visit our "WA State Activism" section.

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