Seattle City Attorney Peter Holmes: "Legalize Marijuana"

Peter Holmes is the City Attorney for Seattle, Washington.  In this op-ed for the Seattle Times, Holmes makes good on his campaign promises to not prosecute user-level marijuana crimes and joins the growing chorus of current (Rep. Jared Polis) and former elected officials (Gov. Gary Johnson) calling for an end to adult marijuana prohibition.

Marijuana is far more like alcohol than it is like hard drugs, and we should treat it as such. We address alcohol abuse primarily as a public-health issue, and we should do the same with marijuana abuse. Inebriation only becomes a crime for those who choose to get behind the wheel, whether the intoxicant is alcohol, prescription pain killers or cannabis.
I support tightening laws against driving while stoned, preventing the sale of marijuana to minors, and ensuring that anything other than small-scale noncommercial marijuana production takes place in regulated agricultural facilities — and not residential basements.
Ending marijuana prohibition and focusing on rational regulation and taxation is a pro-public safety, pro-public health, pro-limited government policy. I urge the state Legislature to move down this road.
Even if marijuana remains illegal under federal law, it is still time for Washington state to act. As with alcohol prohibition, collective action by the states will help us end the federal marijuana prohibition and transition to a rational and functional system for regulating and taxing marijuana.

Pete Holmes is serving his first term as Seattle city attorney.  Click here to read the entire op-ed.

75 thoughts

  1. Peter Holmes sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. I like the part where he added “I support tightening laws against driving while stoned, preventing the sale of marijuana to minors, and ensuring that anything other than small-scale noncommercial marijuana production takes place in regulated agricultural facilities — and not residential basements.” If there is any chance for legalization in Seattle, could it be here, now (sort of now), and by this guy? What he says is clear and to the point of how things should work when legalized. ANyway, this was a well worth it article on NORML, haven’t read something this cool on cannabis since Obama was elected…

  2. Peter Holmes ,
    Thank You so much for jumping on board, We need your help in this ridiculous war! People like you will hel us repeal marijuana prohibition!!!!

  3. mr. holmes im very pleased to hear youre commonsence aporoach to what cannabis laws in this country should b. keep up the good work and whare can we find more like you.

  4. I am a conservative, fifty-five-year-old Texas woman, and I have supported marijuana law reform and NORML for over thirty years. It is time for Republicans to realize that their constituency has changed. We are not our parents. We grew up during the sixties and seventies, and we know the facts about marijuana. We know that it is not the horrible, dangerous, addictive hard drug that they have been making it out to be for so many years.
    Decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana has so many benefits, and so few problems, associated with it that it’s hard to list them all.
    Speaking as a Texan, I want the Mexican drug cartels stopped, and the best, most effective way to do this is to legalize the weed from which they make the vast majority of their money. Think of it, millions of responsible adults smoke marijuana; compared to these, the number of hard-drug users is very small. Taking away the bread-and-butter of the cartels will weaken them in a way that law enforcement cannot hope to do.
    It is time for our law-enforcement resources (human and fiscal) to focus on solving violent crime and stop making their quotas (yes, they have them) on the backs of responsible adults who would never be criminals if the laws were fair and reflected the will of the people.
    Please write to your elected officials, state and federal, and urge them to get with the program. I have resolved to pull my vote from any politician who is not doing the will of the people as expressed in countless polls. In fact, I am in favor of a resolution on the part of the American people to “re-elect no one” if they refuse to be public SERVANTS as the founding fathers intended. We should find and support new people during the primaries of our chosen political parties if we are unhappy with the incumbent person, and demand that the will of the voters be done.
    [Paul Armentano responds: Thanks for your note and for your past NORML support. If you have not yet done so, please contact your state elected officials in support of House Bill 548, which amends Texas law so that the adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is reduced from a Class B misdemeanor (punishable by 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine) to a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine and no criminal record. You can do so here:

  5. If this goes through, I’mgoing to retire in Seattle.
    However, I’d like a little more clarity in “…ensuring that anything other than small-scale noncommercial marijuana production takes place in regulated agricultural facilities — and not residential basements”.
    I hope this means, if my retirement plan works out, that any adult in Seattle can grow as much as they want in a 25 square foot area or limited to 5 to 10 plants.
    Even so, it’ll still be awesome just picking up an oz. at a licensed, regulated and taxed head shop.

  6. Go Seattle!!! Common sense should be contagious. I am happy to see people in the position to step up acturally doing so. I am in the pot subculture, and I can tell you that in Seattle, a lot of people enjoy the plant, from my college mates to working adults.
    If there is anything ever going on in Seattle I will be there to support!!

  7. From that Op-Ed:
    “Marijuana prohibition is more than a practical failure; it has been a misuse of both taxpayer dollars and the government’s authority over the people.”
    The public acknowledgement of that reality has placed Peter Holmes, the City Attorney for Seattle Washington, into that rare group of politicians who speak truth to power. Where are all the rest of “our” politicians in this regard?
    IIRC, former Chief of Police Gil Kerlikowske of Portland Washington, now the Obama regime’s Drug Czar, held similar beliefs regarding persecution of cannabis users. It turned out that Gil was merely a pragmatic “sock puppet” looking for a better meal ticket.
    We the people need to do a better job of winnowing out the fascists and pragmatic promulgators of fascism from our “political class”, because they are literally killing us. Kerlikowske misspoke — the War on Drugs IS a war on people, US. What are We going to do about it?

  8. “We address it as a public health issue.”
    It most certainly is a public health issue! “Harm Reduction” should play a vital part of the issue as well. It’s already a Health and Human Services [FDA] issue [By the way – our current “Drug Czar” was supportive of “Harm Reduction” when he was Seattle Chief of Police].”
    With the Health and Human Services – FDA’s “go ahead” from the DEA – to reschedule natural whole plant substance extractions [in pill form] from schedule I to schedule III – thereby making it a legal drug – is a “Dead Give Away – and – I do mean – Give Away!” Big Pharma will produce the pill [as they do], medicine will now be able to write a prescription [as they do], and pharmacists can dispense it [as they do] – they’ve given it legitimacy [as they do] and taken “TOTAL CONTROL – WHAT’S NEW?” Big Pharma snatched it right out alcohol and tobacco’s hands. So far, so good, so far, except for one thing – they’ve snatched it [the whole plant material] out of our [qualified patients] hands, cannabis dispensaries, and the State’s hands. Their little “Ace up their sleeve” is – “the whole plant material” stays in schedule one – remaining federally illegal. “You can have the orange juice – but – you can’t touch the orange.” Could federal control win out over Sate sovereignty rights?

  9. Johnson, Polis, and Holmes all sound like they ought to be in the next pre-legalization special by Trish Regan. I realize the focus needs to be on the U.S. to start the first domino in North America, but I also want to see something done to get the message out about medical activists unjustly tossed in jail and also mention of Epis and Marc Emery. Definitely mention McWilliams as well as people like Spruill killed in raids. You could get an exhaustive list from NORML or Marijuana Policy Project
    So far, Trish has spotlighted only as far east as Kentucky. History Channel could do a pro-cannabis series on cannabis legalization on the eastern seaboard, such as in Massachussetts and Rhode Island.
    When the Big Apple falls, prohibition in the eastern megalopolis is over.
    Well, how the hell do we do that? you may ask.
    (I’m not going to quote my own stream of consciousness.)
    You have to include in the shows examples of employers who simply refuse to enforce cannabis prohibition by testing and firing people for positive cannabis-use tests.
    You must depict employees who have responsible recreational use off the job, and employees, who if they must medicate/use during work hours, are also depicted as responsible and MORE productive than someone at work with a hangover.
    Employers who DO NOT sanction for responsible cannabis use needs to be introduced along with the jobs the sector can create right now.
    I mean, really, do I have to think of everything.
    As I already mentioned, once the Big Apple goes to pot, prohibition is over.
    You can nudge legalization along by getting ever more employers to ignore cannabis prohibition.
    I mean, specifically, that if people know their employer won’t fire them for off-the-job use, you’ll have Amsterdam-style shops operating where the market needs them. It’ll just be too much for the local law enforcement to handle, and it will certainly be too much for the Feds to swoop in and eliminate.
    You might as well get your licensing permits and various forms ready for print.
    Arghh! Do I have to think of everything?! Really!

  10. It’s always nice to learn that not all of our leaders are Boehners, er, uh, I mean boneheads!
    I wish you all the best Mr. Holmes! Thank you for having the courage to do what is right!

  11. Join the “Overgrow the Government”
    Demonstration Protest
    in Washington, D.C.
    on 420 Day 2011- April 20, 2011
    Rally to Make Marijuana Legal
    & End Marijuana Prohibition
    March from Lafayette Park to the
    Washington Monument.
    Please call Jason Warf 502-396-5663
    420 Day
    [Editor’s note: Too bad neither Congress or NORML will be in Washington DC that week…as Congress is in recess and the national NORML conference is in Denver, Colorado. Also, protests on a Wednesday, around rush hour, in DC, does not equal a wise organizing move….donating money or energy to this ill-planned endeavor is a waste of time.]

  12. I have to say thanks Mr. Holmes , legalization would be a big step toward limited government.
    It seems to me that pressure is mounting. Finacially, things are starting to get bad on states , reform wise, the truth can no longer be mearly explained away with fancy words and legal e’s by government.
    The world is a changing.

  13. i’m all cool with the legalization thing but but whats with the ” and ensuring that anything other than small-scale noncommercial marijuana production takes place in regulated agricultural facilities — and not residential basements.” am i not taking this part the wrong way? does it really say no at home grows only big commercial company type grows???

  14. or does it mean no large commercial type grows in peoples homes that cannot support the energy used????
    if you legalize and let us grow small personal in our homes and or yards i for 1 would be all for a yearly safety inspection to check for stupid human trick type stuff with wiring and such!!!!

  15. In the video of the debate the committee had both a committee member, and member of law enforcement refer to marijuana as an “herb” (Police officer said it @ 1:08 – one hour 8 minutes – and the committee member said it shortly before). My god, is society finally starting to get over their almost 80 year hangover?

  16. In reference to Ms. Liz’s correlation statement that legalizing marijuana would increase youth acceptance: First, correlating marijuana legality with youth acceptance is like saying the legality of guns promotes acceptance of youth violence; second, you stated that the real answer isn’t whether there is a law for or against [pot], but rather that it’s mostly the parent’s job. Why am I a criminal for choosing a substance that is laughably safer than any other therapeutic substance on Earth. Especially when you compare the harms of pot to the extraordinary harms of alcohol. Sorry, but I refuse to be a part of your violence inducing, fatal car wrecking, close-minded, cancer causing, liver killing, domestic violence abusing, whiskey drinking agenda. I’d just rather “sit around” and “eat” like a “stoner”.

  17. God put this miraculous plant here for his children. In its’ pure, natural form it is ready for our use. It requires no physical (fire) or chemical (blending or alteration in labs) for us to utilize it and receive its’ benefits to the fullest extent. How can MAN argue with that?? Why will politicians not hear the logic? Perhaps it’s because the vast majority of the political ‘old-school’ leadership is just that–OLD. Get the geezers the hell out of office and bring in some folks who don’t give a damn who ‘Ted Kennedy’ was and who are not beholden to thugs like our current president and all the dipshits he surrounds himself with like the turncoat Drug Czar. The medical benefits that are being uncovered would increase exponentially if modern science was permitted to really begin investigating all the wonderful things this humble, scraggly plant can accomplish for mankind. I venture it would make Penicillin look tame by comparison…

  18. Its time we take it to the street. Rise up. Why shude we take this any more.Its time for mager raly. prpar to stay for a week. Get ready falks.We need to move fast we must go to the capital of your stat and protest.End the war on drugs

  19. This is certainly a huge step in the right direction for an elected official, but if I may quibble a bit…
    “Marijuana is far more like alcohol than it is like hard drugs…”
    It would be more accurate to say that alcohol is far more like hard drugs than marijuana is. In fact, alcohol meets the definition of a hard drug. Also, instead of castigating “stoned drivers”, it would be better to put the focus on impaired drivers.

  20. Nice to see a person in his position make statements like this. Anyone that supports prohibition supports the idea that criminal gangs should control the cultivation, distribution and sales of cannabis in this country. We would rather see people and companies that follow the rules be in charge of all of those things. The control of this most valuable commodity belongs at the local level. Each state, county or city should decide how it wants to control it. Let the people decide not elected officials.

  21. I like this guy, but my dream is to have my own backyard greenhouse and try to recreate the best quality sativa strains of the early 1970’s for my own personal use.
    And have it all done legally.

  22. Peter Holmes is right on course for Washington, but the barbarians are protecting the their BERLIN WALL of MARIJUANA PROHIBITION. The wall already has fifteen cracks in it and it needs another thirty five cracks for the WALL OF MARIJUANA PROHIBITION TO COME TUMBLIN DOWN. Lets see what happens in INDIANA IN THE SUMMER TIME. It’s really a joke when the FEDS have BLANK CHECK MENTALITY of using our tax dollars to glorify MARIJUANA PROHIBITION and feed the DRUG WAR. WHOOPS! ANOTHER 38 seconds have gone by and another UNICORN created.

  23. how dare anyone attempt to derive pleasure from anything but the dispensing or possession of money or Jesus.

  24. thank you so very much for a legitimate political stance that takes a lot of courage to speak forthrightly to the general public. now if we can get ron paul and gary johnson to run a combined campaign based solely on the complete legalization of all cannabis. i may be wrong, but a landslide of public support, with little campaign funds needed, will make the biggest change with the most good for the nation based solely on going green with industrial cannabis industries exploding across the nation, and the revenue from taxation and regulation like tobacco and alcohol, and the savings in law enforcement and prison costs would give the nation its greatest economic turnaround in history. come on ron paul and gary johnson, start the campaign today.

  25. I can’t figure out how there isn’t enough evidence to prove that the law is the crime. I feel like a light has turned on And I see the treason for greed’s sake.
    And the blood.
    I want to ask. Lawyers,Are you afraid to be a great man or woman? Your name to go on in history. Maybe win a fracking nobel prise.
    Give the Republic Free Enterprise And maybe we hope a cure.

  26. 44 disabledvet
    Ron Paul/Gary Johnson sounds pretty exciting. That’s a thumbs up!
    45. fishcreekbob
    The enigma of cannabis prohibition goes far beyond understanding – and – will remain an enigma even if cannabis is legalized [cover their crimes in the name of justice]. As far as medicinal cannabis is concerned – Big pharma has muscled its way into cultivation, manufacturing, transportation, leaving medicine [physicians] to prescribe, and pharmacy to disburse. Big pharma will do this without changing the law, as the whole plant material is and will remain federally illegal. All that needs be done is a little rescheduling at the FDA.. See how easy it is when you’re the boss. As nothing is as old as yesterday’s news, we will all soon forget the horrors of war and those who perpetrated those war crimes.

  27. @37 Joel: the other Joel – To be able to legally grow my own connoisseur grade smoke is also a dream of mine! There are few things in this small world that would help me more in my pursuit of happiness; which by the way is what the founders of this country intended for us all!

  28. He said alcohol isn’t a hard drug; that is so totally bogus. That UK study just came out this year showing alcohol is as dangerous as heroin or cocaine respectively on the body… alcohol is a notoriously hard drug. Driving on too much caffeine can prove deadly too but we shouldn’t rail against drive while high caffeine: there is such a thing as responsible use… driving while totally screwed up on caffeine should indeed be illegal, but we understand that there is reasonable use of caffeine & more to the point, of cannabis. If you have trouble driving on cannabis you’ve used too much or have some other issue (like the fool on NPR who had Trainwreck & then claimed to have be compelled by the bud to drive towards police officers & honk the horn…that demonstrates a behavioral disorder unrelated to cannabis).

  29. People (cops, polititians, businessmen, and other crooks) don’t want to lose their income and power, even if it is from an unethical means. I understand. REPENT.

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