I-502 was just the beginning, folks. On Saturday, local marijuana activists participated in the annual Cannabis Freedom March, a worldwide rally to end marijuana prohibition.
This year’s March from Volunteer Park to Westlake Center downtown featured a funeral procession led by a hearse. Sharon Whitson, one of the organizers of Hempfest, came up with the idea while smoking a joint with a friend. Though Whitson saw the passing of Initiative 502 last November as a momentous victory for the pro-weed camp, she admits that prohibition, while certainly on its deathbed, is still hanging on.
Among the guests slated to speak on Saturday, one individual stood out from the rest: interim Seattle police chief Jim Pugel. In the days before the rally, Pugel declared that I-502 has simplified his department’s job when it comes to enforcing marijuana laws. “To me and what I hear from the officers, it’s clarified what our responsibilities are,” he said.
Taking the stage at Westlake Center, Pugel emphasized that SPD does not “condemn” or “endorse” marijuana use. As he sees it, the job of the police is to “make sure it is all done legally.”
Pugel also asked that anyone smoking at the rally not do so in front of the officers present. This request exemplifies the somewhat awkward balancing act the police department must strike to keep the peace in pot-friendly Washington state.
Smoking marijuana in public is illegal under state law, and it will still be illegal when I-502 goes into effect in December of this year. Nevertheless, those at the March who wanted to enjoy a toke or a marijuana edible simply had to show ID to enter a designated tent.