In the state of Washington, hundreds of pot cases have been tossed by county prosecutors via the retroactive application of ballot measure I-502, which legalized recreational pot use on November 6 with nearly 56 percent of the vote. In the same week that I-502 was passed, Dan Satterberg, prosecutor for King County – the state's most populous county, which includes Seattle – announced he was dismissing 175 pending pot possession cases, despite the new law not going into effect until December 6. Satterberg said he saw no point in prosecuting conduct that would be legal a month later.
The prosecutor of Pierce County (second most populous) announced the dismissal of nearly 50 unresolved misdemeanor possession cases. After the larger counties took the plunge, prosecutors in Clark, Lincoln, and Whitman counties similarly dropped charges against those 21 and older busted for less than an ounce. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes has been ahead of the curve since 2010, refusing to prosecute any pot possession cases in his jurisdiction.
Unfortunately, there were a few holdouts. Ferry County Prosecutor Michael Sandonna promised to waste everyone's time and money by continuing to prosecute 20 open pot cases. While Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker plans on dropping pending possession charges, the county's chief criminal deputy prosecutor has resorted to a strict interpretation of I-502, maintaining that under the law recreational pot won't be technically legal for anyone until December 1, 2013 when the state-licensed weed stores – the only sanctioned source of pot in Washington – officially open for business.