Monday, March 2, 2009

Seattle Marijuana Policy Review Panel Concludes I-75 Working As Intended

From NORML Website

January 3, 2008 - Seattle, WA, USA

Seattle, Washington: Initiative 75, passed by the Seattle, WA voters in September of 2003, requires that "the Seattle Police Department and City Attorney’s Office shall make the investigation, arrest and prosecution of marijuana offenses, when the marijuana was intended for adult personal use, the city’s lowest law enforcement priority." The ordinance subsequently adopted by the Seattle City Council to implement the new policy included provisions for the president of the city council to appoint an eleven-member Marijuana Policy Review Panel to assess and report on the effects of this ordinance.

Today, following more than three years of meetings and reviews, the Marijuana Policy Review Panel issued their final report, including the following conclusions and findings:

I. I-75 was implemented and following its implementation there were reductions both in the number of Seattle Police Department marijuana incident referrals and in the number of Seattle City Attorney filings of marijuana charges, although it is impossible to say whether these reductions were the result of I-75;

II. There is no evidence of any adverse effect of the implementation of I-75, including specifically

1. no evident increase in marijuana use among youth and young adults:

2. no evident increase in crime; and

3. no adverse impact on public health.

III. There is some evidence of arguably positive effects from I-75in the following substantive areas examined:

1. Fewer adults experiencing the consequences of involvement in the criminal justice system due to their personal use of marijuana; and,

2. A small reduction in the amount of public safety resources dedicated to marijuana possession cases and a corresponding slight increase in availability of these resources for other public safety priorities.

The panel then recommended that the City Council (1) keep the current ordinance in effect; (2) require the City Attorney’s Office to provide the city council with an annual report describing the disposition of each case in which an individual was referred for misdemeanor marijuana charges, tracking the disposition of the charges, including an analysis of the racial and gender breakdown of those referred for prosecution; and (3) disband the Marijuana Policy Review Panel.

NORML Board member Dominic Holden, a Seattle resident who led the successful effort to pass I-75 and is one of the 11-members appointed by the City Council President to serve on the review panel, stated:

"The panel’s report is the first of its kind in the US to show that de-prioritizing marijuana enforcement has no negative impact on society. In contrast, this report shows that the measure freed up limited law enforcement resources to focus on violent and dangerous crime. This is the result that initiative backers and endorsers, including the League of Women Voters, promised voters when I-75 was on the ballot.

To view the final version of Seattle’s Marijuana Policy Review, visit

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