WASHINGTON: In Washington state, a new recreational marijuana industry is being built from the ground up. Passed in November 2012, the initiative contained some of the regulations and the rest were hashed out in the year following the initiative’s passage. The first retail stores opened in July. Like Colorado, which also legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, Washington continues to tweak its rules as the rollout continues.
Now, Washington is beginning to see the effects of the emerging market. Alaska can look to Washington to see what has — and hasn’t — happened so far when considering potential impacts in the Last Frontier.
People don’t smoke pot everywhere
Like Colorado, Washington’s law bans public use of marijuana. Smoking in public buildings and in vehicles is also banned. That means there’s nowhere for people to smoke marijuana except private residences. Should Alaska choose to legalize, smoking in public would likewise be banned and subject to a citation of $100.
In Seattle, the city has focused on curbing behavior through warnings, not citations. The Seattle Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said that issuing citations is not the department’s first priority. “When it comes to open use of marijuana by adults, we are very responsive to community concerns and complaints, but beyond that, we typically don’t seek it out. We’ve done a lot of public education on the subject (and) we do ask for voluntary compliance,” Whitcomb said.