Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spokane County won't drop pending pot possession cases

Posted By on Tue, Nov 13, 2012 at 3:25 PM

click to enlarge bud.jpg

UPDATE: Chief criminal Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Jack Driscoll clarifies to the Spokesman that the county will not prosecute any new marijuana possession charges for those over 21 with an ounce or less now that I-502 has passed. (The cases we told you about below will continue.) That's after Driscoll said last week that the department still viewed possession of weed bought from the black market (all of it, since legal stores won't exist until next year or 2014) as a crime.

UPDATE: County Prosecutor Steven Tucker tells The Inlander today that his department only has one pending case in which someone 21 or older is charged with possessing an ounce or less, and that the case is in bench warrant status, meaning the person didn't show up to court and now has a warrant out for his or her arrest. Five cases against people younger than 21 and nine cases that are attached to "attached to more serious charges, like felonies" are ongoing and will be prosecuted, he says. 

UPDATE: KHQ is reporting that nearby Lincoln and Whitman Counties are now saying they too will drop misdemeanor marijuana possession charges. 

More than 200 pot possessors on the West side will have have the cases against them dropped in light of the passage of Initiative 502, which legalizes up to an ounce of bud. But if you've got a possession case pending in Spokane County, you won't be so lucky.

Prosecutors from King, Pierce and Clark Counties have said they'll drop pending possession charges for people who had an ounce or less, now that the law has passed. But Spokane County Prosecutor Steven Tucker will not, says County Spokeswoman Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter.

Tucker did not return a call from The Inlander, but Wheatley-Billeter spoke on his behalf. She says Tucker does not plan to drop any ongoing possession cases in Spokane County. He's awaiting a Dec. 5-7 meeting in Seattle of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, of which he's the president, where at least one day will be dedicated to I-502. (Possession is legal starting Dec. 6, according to the new law.)

Wheatley-Billeter says he's waiting for the meeting because he hopes it will include input from federal authorities and "consensus" among county prosecutors. But she refused to speculate about whether Tucker will follow suit if a majority of county prosecutors from across Washington want to drop pending cases.

"There are a number of counties where the prosecuting attorneys are sort of jumping the gun saying they'll be dropping these cases," Wheatley-Billeter says. "He said, 'I'm not willing to take that step right now.'"



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