Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who hasn't been a notably high-profile figure during his time in office – bearing in mind that his office automatically has some visibility – delivered two shockers, both in the form of highly useful lessons, last week. He got plenty of attention for both, attention sought out in one case and ruefully unsought in the other.
The first was his surprise appearance at Cannabis City, Seattle's first (legal) shop catering to recreational marijuana sales, on its opening morning. He was there early, and became the store's fourth customer, buying two small bags of product. His presence wasn't stunning in an absolute sense, since Holmes had been a strong and clear advocate for marijuana legalization; but then, not all legalization advocates are necessarily going to be customers of Cannabis city and its bretheren. Holmes said that one of his purchases was intended to be a keepsake, and the other – he suggestion – was intended for consumption.
This brief incident was captured on film (television cameras were there), and a picture of Holmes making a buy illegal under law in 48 other states was promptly posted on his official city web page. It's hard to imagine an image that more specifically or powerfully highlights how far the move toward legalization – and its social acceptability – has come.
Well, to a point.
Failing to think through (as an attorney should) the legal implications of what he was doing, a busy Holmes carried his bags back to his office at city hall. Soon after he was confronted with an unwelcome reality: Bringing marijuana into city hall (a “drug-free workplace”), and having it available during working hours, were contrary to city code. The code Holmes' job is supposed to enforce.
He fessed up soon after, said his mea culpas and offered to donate $3,000 (which would equate to a hefty fine) to the Downtown Emergency Service Center as penance.
Thereby providing a demonstration that although Washington has legalized the bud, its use and possession still are not exactly a wide-open matter. And will not be, at least for some time to come.