Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Twenty-four percent of drug violations in Seattle were for marijuana in 2012

KOMO News reports that, according to Crime in Washington 2012 Annual Report, 26.4% of drug violations in the City of Seattle were for marijuana. 

According to the news report:

The majority of (Seattle) drug violations, 36.1 percent, were for crack cocaine. But, marijuana wasn't far behind with 26.4 percent. Only 0.03 percent of drug violations were for PCP. Whitcomb said the high amount of marijuana-related offenses are due to the way the state tallies those numbers. For example, the Seattle Police Department would count a bank robber arrested with marijuana on him as a robbery offense, while the state numbers count it as both a robbery offense and a drug offense.

This is similar to what Seattle Mayor McGinn said in 2010 when asked about marijuana-related arrests:  

Most police contacts involving marijuana occur because of an unrelated offense. For example, of the incident reports filed between January 1st and April 30th of this year, there were only eighty that cited possession of marijuana. Of these:  

• 17 (21.3%) involved 911 calls for service. 7 were for narcotics complaints, meaning someone called 911 about drug-related activity and that drug turned out to be marijuana. 10 of those were dispatched calls for non-narcotics complaints like fighting, trespassing, or someone behaving erratically and blocking traffic and marijuana was discovered subsequent to the arrest. While enforcing marijuana laws is our lowest priority, responding to our community is our highest priority. 14 (17.5%) involved the serving of warrants. That is, officers encountered someone with an outstanding warrant, searched that individual, and discovered marijuana.

• 20 (25%) involved a traffic stop. Even under the most liberal legalization proposals, driving under the influence of marijuana would remain illegal, so when an officer stops a vehicle and smells pot, a search is clearly justified.

• 12 (15%) involved a High Drug Enforcement Area. These are areas of our city which see a high volume of drug trafficking, and have been targeted for heavy drug enforcement. When a cop sees a hand-to-hand sale, it’s not always obvious what drug was sold until they make the stop. Additionally, street-level dealers of heroin or cocaine often deal marijuana as well. Thus, marijuana shows up in the incident report.

• If you remove those four factors, you are left with 21 of the 80 incidents. Of the 21, all but six were incidents in which the officer stopped the suspect for a reason other than marijuana, and discovered marijuana incident to the arrest. Those six remaining incidents all involved individuals openly smoking marijuana in front of a police officer.

Which begs the question, will the implementation of I-502 really reduce marijuana-related violations and arrests in Seattle? 

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