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Originally published November 19, 2012 at 4:18 PM | Page modified November 19, 2012 at 4:18 PM

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Editorial: Understand new marijuana rules before you light up

On Dec. 6, marijuana becomes legal in Washington. Those who smoke should follow the law.

Seattle Times Editorial

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On Sunday night, a doting crowd came out to a Capitol Hill venue to hear the witty rhymes of a California hip-hop group. The lead singers offered Washington voters kudos for having a progressive policy on marijuana.

To observers, it appeared that some of their fellow concertgoers might have thought that Initiative 502, which will legalize the recreational use of marijuana, had taken effect already.

An unmistakable aroma wafted through the crowd, which is not unusual at concerts. But the flicker of at least one joint was visible in the darkness as it was openly passed between a couple and their friends. So conspicuous they were, security guards wove through the crowd and told them to stop.

The law does not take effect until Dec. 6.

Even if adults over 21 will be allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use — they cannot light up in public places.

The new provisions do not extend to the workplace or federal buildings, either. Under federal law, marijuana remains illegal.

A recent post on the Seattle Police Department’s SPD Blotter blog, aptly titled “Marijwhatnow,” has gone viral because it explains the black, white and gray areas of the measure as law enforcers interpret it. This is an important resource for citizens and prospective employees as the state sets up rules and licensing requirements for the long term.

In passing I-502, Washington has a chance to show other states how to set pragmatic drug policies. Voters approved responsible use, not belligerent and reckless behavior.

Those who light up can help themselves and the state by first understanding what the law says.

To learn more about how SPD will respond to the new rules, visit:

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