At midnight on December 6, crowds of marijuana smokers lighted up under Seattle’s Space Needle to celebrate the legalization of marijuana in Washington state. Voters legalized marijuana in November, making Washington one of the first states (along with Colorado) to legalize recreational use of the drug. The law took effect at 12 a.m., and smokers counted down to midnight before lighting their joints and blowing smoke into news cameras. Although Washington still bans smoking pot in public and punishes it with a fine, police officers left the revelers to themselves. According to Associated Press, the Seattle Police Department told its officers not to issue citations for public marijuana use until further notice.
Washington’s new law decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana, but still bans the sale of it until the state designs a system of state-licensed growers, processors and retail stores. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, so the status of Washington and Colorado’s laws remains uncertain. Colorado’s law will take effect by January 5.
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