Washington: New marijuana law side effect: Youth possession now a felony


A prosecutor in southeastern Washington has charged three teens with felonies for marijuana possession, saying a new law demands the higher level of offense.

The Lewiston Tribune in Idaho reports the teens ages 14, 15 and 17 have been charged in nearby Asotin County with felonies that could net them up to five years in prison. The offense was previously a misdemeanor with a maximum 90-day jail sentence.  

Asotin County Prosecutor Ben Nichols said Senate Bill 5052, which the Legislature passed and Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law this year, contains the new language.

“If you are a minor, a person under 21, it’s a felony no matter what,” Nichols said.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, said the tougher penalty was designed to deter minors from trying an adult drug.

“We have to send a message to our kids: This will hurt you in more ways than one if you decide to participate,” Rivers said.

An Inslee spokeswoman told The Tribune, however, the felony charge for minors is not what he intended in a law focused on regulating the state’s medical marijuana system.

“I can only tell you that this was not the intention that the governor had when working with legislators on this bill,” Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith said.

Smith said parties had agreed at the time that keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors was a priority, “but there are other ways to do that without charging them with felonies.”

The governor can’t change the law himself, but lawmakers could when they meet for the 2016 legislative session.

Rick Laws, an Asotin County public defender who represents one of the juveniles, said that doesn’t help his client in the meantime.

“That’s an awfully high price for a few people to have to pay for faulty legislative work,” he said.

Nichols said if the law is changed, anyone convicted would have to return to court and ask to have that conviction vacated.


8 thoughts on “Washington: New marijuana law side effect: Youth possession now a felony

  1. Yup, let’s imprison our youth for smoking pot. Are we going back in time or what? WTF! I guess all a guy has to do is “follow the money.” Sad but true.
    They bring the drugs in, use their stools for distribution and information, set people up, call COPS producers to bring the cameras in for their “heroic” arrest of a dangerous 15 year old smokin’ a doober in his parent’s garage. Then they all go down to the “pig” tavern, sampling some of the evidence in a “pre-screening”, get drunk and high, and somehow find a way to sleep at night.

  2. Washington state has my sympathy. Not just the youth, but the parents that will have to deal with more “legal” bullshit because of this. This may even make the suicide rate of youngsters go up, which will also affect the families dramatically.

  3. I’m just in shock this is happening. Per this screwed up system the children will have trouble getting a job. Not to mention all the other bs laws that apply to felons.

  4. “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and money system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”
    -Henry Ford

    Until then “The Law” will continue to own the citizenry.

  5. >>“We have to send a message to our kids: This will hurt you in more ways than one if you decide to participate,” Rivers said.<<

    WTF? "Send a message" by ruining their lives? And why would you want to "hurt" kids at all — especially for doing something that didn't hurt anyone else?

    Which does this stupid twat Ann Rivers think is more harmful to a teenager: recreational pot use, or a felony conviction and incarceration?

    There's actually a larger message being sent here: the Police State doesn't only want to devour us. It wants our children, too.

  6. I only have this to say; I live in Washington state, and Ann Rivers is from the coastal side of the state. We unfortunately are controlled state wide by the idiots on the west side whether they have a D or an R by their name. She’s still a libtard.

  7. The narcissism of the busy-body class knows no bounds.

    That said, putting a kid in a cage for victimless crime/vice is perverted.

    I propose an addition to the bill of rights: Victimless crimes and vices may not be prosecuted. No prison time nor fines/fees to be alloted for victimless crimes or vices.


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