Remember last summer when scientists released a new study claiming to link marijuana use with schizophrenia? See e.g. Reuters article. Let’s face it, it is the government that has the split personality disorder when it comes to marijuana laws. Can someone explain to me why there is a mandatory one day in jail for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in an amount under 40 grams (RCW 69.50.425), but a judge is not obligated to impose any jail for a person convicted of the felony of possession over 40 grams? See page III-279 of State Sentencing Guidelines Manual. How about the huge disparities in the way in which marijuana laws are enforced from county to county and city to city? For example the Seattle city attorney announced this year that he was not going to prosecute any misdemeanor marijuana cases period. See source. But in most rural counties of eastern Washington, marijuana enforcement is still in full effect. In metropolitan areas of Washington, large medical marijuana dispensaries are tolerated, but in rural eastern Washington things are different. Small-time medical marijuana grows are routinely raided in Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties. A new medical marijuana clinic in Okanogan County will soon be held (see story) – I guess we will see how that goes over.
As a criminal defense lawyer it is becoming harder and harder to explain to clients that there is any sense to the system. Under federal law, even a first-time charge of simple possession of marijuana is enough disqualify a young person from eligibility for student loans. In Washington, proposed Initiative 1068 would legalize possession of small quantities of marijuana. This initiative would be on the ballot next year. But would such an initiative really pass in Washington State if a similar initiative just failed in California? I think people are getting discouraged about any change in the marijuana laws here in Washington State.
What do you think about the disparities in enforcement? Do you think the initiative 1068 will pass next year?