On Friday Seattle officials gave pot smokers a spot to light up in honor of the first anniversary of the drug’s legalization in Washington State. The deal the promoter made with the city agreed to ID checks, adults only and a sealed off area with privacy fencing because it’s against the law to smoke marijuana in clear view of the public. “I did not approach the city and say we are going to have a pot rally and nobody is going to be using pot. I told them very clearly we are going to be consuming cannabis on site and I would like you to permit that,” said marijuana activist Ben Livingston.
And the city did, after the managers of Seattle Center said no. Despite state law making marijuana OK for adults, possession of marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government, and this is happening right under the U.S. Attorney’s nose. “I think the city is going to have to look carefully whether this is a good use of their resources, of their space,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan.
The U.S. Justice Department has said publicly it’s taking a hands-off approach to pot in Washington, unless marijuana sellers are operating within 1,000 feet of places where children can be found – and Seattle Center has a lot of them. “That is an area well-trafficked by children and are you really cordoning it off to kids or are you sending a message to kids,” Durkan said.
But the message to marijuana users for now is enjoy. “I feel like for the last year we’ve been living through the freshman year of college. Now it’s time to have a serious discussion on what are going to be the parameters around this and get through this yahoo phase,” Durkan said. Nine people, including the president of the state’s association for substance abuse and violence prevention, wrote letters calling for the event to be canceled. Their movement was unsuccessful.
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