Washington State Continues Prosecuting Marijuana Cases Despite Legalization

Last May, a Bellevue police officer found seven grams of marijuana in the car of a 26 year-old tech-industry worker. There is no evidence driver, Aaron MacPhee, was high or drunk; he had no criminal history; he just had a few joints worth of pot.

In November, voters voiced — no shouted — their disapproval of low-level marijuana possession charges. At least nine county prosecutors dismissed such pending cases after the election, citing the “will of the people,” and acknowledging the difficulty of getting a jury to convict.

But the case against MacPhee continues. On Tuesday, his attorney, Scott Leist, is arguing for a dismissal in the Bellevue division of King County District Court. He cites a 1934 U.S. Supreme Court ruling from end of alcohol prohibition, which tossed a criminal case against apparent bootleggers because prohibition was “deprived of force” by the end of prohibition.



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