County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Toynbee emphasized that his office only will dismiss cases in which the alleged offenses no longer will be illegal as of Dec. 6, when voter-approved Initiative 502 takes effect. The measure makes it legal for people 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana.
It’s still illegal to buy or sell marijuana in any amount, Toynbee added.
Toynbee said his office is not tracking how many criminal cases will be dismissed. Prosecutors will simply dismiss the cases as they come up for hearings in District Court.
Prosecutors in King and Pierce counties have made similar decisions, while Lewis County is still prosecuting all marijuana-related misdemeanors.
Olympia City Prosecutor Paul Wohl said his office has dismissed about 30 cases.
Lacey Assistant City Attorney David Schneider said his office has yet to decide what to do with its cases. People with his office will meet with Lacey police and city officials Monday to discuss the issue, he said.
Tumwater’s misdemeanor marijuana cases are prosecuted by the county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
M. Bailey Hirschburg, board member of the Thurston County chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, said his organization sent a letter to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office after I-502’s passage, urging it to dismiss the pending cases. Toynbee said the letter did not influence his office’s decision.
Hirschburg called I-502’s passage historic Friday.
“We’ve redefined drug policy for our state, and in doing so called attention to prohibition’s failure on our entire planet,” Hirschburg said in a written statement.