Rivers applauds common-sense application of new marijuana law

Legislator says reduced charge is appropriate in possession case

Sen. Ann Rivers is praising a prosecutor’s decision to reduce charges in a marijuana-possession case against three Washington teens, saying it’s an example of how the criminal-justice system is still getting acquainted with marijuana-law changes that emerged from this year’s legislative session.

Rivers authored the law aimed at ending conflicts and closing loopholes in the state’s marijuana statutes. She has been following the case, which involved a small amount of marijuana, since felony charges were filed last week. Between a second look at the law and advice from the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the local prosecutor reduced the charges to misdemeanors.

“I applaud the prosecutor for his wisdom and willingness to apply good sense in this case. This was a good test of the new law, and the outcome is in line with what I was trying to accomplish. No one is looking to destroy kids’ lives for making a mistake. As I’ve said many times, this law is about ensuring that we have a tightly regulated marijuana industry that keeps pot out of the hands of our children. That is what voters wanted when they approved Initiative 502,” said Rivers, R-La Center.

“This is a complex issue so I can understand the challenges our justice system may face in interpreting what the law does and doesn’t allow. The section of the bill tied to the original charges came from an amendment a colleague in the House offered at the last minute,” said Rivers. “I’ve asked the state attorney general for an opinion on the matter. I want to ensure this is properly applied moving forward.”

“I have no doubt we will see more bumps as our state implements its marijuana policy. This is still a bit like the Wild West and although we’ve tamed the situation some, this case highlights the need for legislators, prosecutors and law enforcement to continue working together.”