Prosecutor putting marijuana prosecution on hold

SPOKANE, Wash. - Small amounts of marijuana will soon be legal, and a number of Washington's 39 counties are deciding to drop misdemeanor pot cases.

King, Pierce, and Clark counties have already announced intent to drop those cases and Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker said Wednesday he's putting the County's lone case on hold.

That's right, in the entire county there's only one case that involves misdemeanor pot possession with someone older than 21. Tucker said he planned on taking all of the cases to court, if there were more.

Spokane not prosecuting pot cases

Tucker says with limited resources, most of the cases are settled out of court.

"(The economy) hurt (our office) a lot, so we've had to prioritize," Tucker said. "So it doesn't really totally surprise me that we only have the one pending one that's in warrant status because these are not given a high priority and they never have been."

Tucker is also the president of the state's association of prosecuting attorneys. They hold a meeting December 7, and Tucker said he won't file any more pot cases until then. He hopes the counties can agree on how to prosecute all the cases filed before the new law takes effect.

"Doesn't make much sense to do it 39 different ways," Tucker added.

Governor Christine Gregoire sent a letter to the federal government this week, saying our state is moving forward with the law. She still hasn't heard back on whether the fed plans to continue to enforce its own pot laws. Tucker thinks that will likely happen.

"The Obama administration is against (marijuana). I would be surprised if they did a turn about and say, 'It's ok now because Colorado and Washington have passed it,'" he said.

Tucker also thinks if pot retailers open next December, it will pave the way for the D.E.A. or F.B.I. agents to arrest them.

"As soon as a store gets set up, there's a dealer or conspiracy to deliver (charge). Those are like, five years minimum in a federal penitentiary," he said.

KXLY called other counties in Eastern Washington to find out what they plan on doing. Lincoln, Whitman, and Pend Orielle counties are dropping misdemeanor pot cases. Ferry County said it will not.

The other counties -- Grant, Stevens and Adams -- did not return calls for comment.