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Seattle Times coverage of pot policy, culture and lifestyle.

July 11, 2014 at 3:53 PM

City Attorney Pete Holmes apologizes for taking pot to work

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes leaving Cannabis City with his purchase. (Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes leaving Cannabis City with his purchase. (Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

City Attorney Pete Holmes has apologized for bringing marijuana to his “drug-free workplace,” the city of Seattle.

“When I brought the unopened marijuana to city offices — trying to keep up with a busy schedule — I nonetheless violated the city’s rules,” Holmes said in a news release this afternoon. “I apologize to my employees, all city employees and to the public.”

In the news release, Holmes said he “volunteered to donate $3,000 to the Downtown Emergency Service Center” as penance.

Holmes purchased marijuana at Cannabis City Tuesday, the first day pot could be sold at legal retail stores.

“Today marijuana sales became legal,” he told the eager crowd of future pot purchasers and media Tuesday. “I’m here to personally exercise that new freedom.”

Holmes later walked out of the shop with two, two-gram bags of OG’s Pearl. He said he was keeping one bag for “posterity” and one for “personal enjoyment when it’s appropriate.”

Kimberly Mills, the City Attorney’s office’s spokeswoman, said in an email Holmes is not exempt from city workplace rules, but that he “never intended to use (the marijuana he bought) any time soon.”

According to the city’s Drug Free Workplace policy, though pot was legalized by Initiative 502 in December 2012, and medical marijuana has been legal since 1998, possession is still prohibited. The policy booklet, partially written in Comic Sans says:

“Neither state law requires employers to accommodate the use or possession of marijuana in the workplace, and the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act requires the City to prohibit the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession or use of a controlled substance on City premises or while conducting City business on or off of City premises.”

According to the policy booklet, “possession includes having detectable amounts in your body.”

Holmes was elected in 2009. As city attorney, Holmes refused to prosecute misdemeanor marijuana possession cases.

In a guest editorial published in this newspaper in 2011, Holmes wrote of his support for legislation to legalize marijuana, writing: “The state of Washington should not use the continued existence of the federal prohibition as an excuse for leaving our misguided and wasteful state prohibition system in place.”

Consumption of marijuana seems unlikely to pose problems for lawyers practicing in King County. The King County Bar recommended that the Washington State Supreme Court amend its professional rules in light of I-502.

Under KCBA’s recommendation, “consuming marijuana in and of itself — like the consumption of alcohol — would not be misconduct.”

Comments | More in News | Topics: marijuana, pete holmes

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