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Originally published Monday, July 21, 2014 at 5:40 PM

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Guest: Legalization did not give people the right to smoke marijuana in public

I do not want to walk by or sit next to someone recreationally smoking marijuana and have to inhale and smell it, writes guest columnist Kris Shoemaker.


Special to The Times

Reader Comments
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First if all thank you for your service to this nation. I'm not trying to minimize the issue but a "bad smell" really... MORE
Better the citizen have the concern for others and does not light up in a public place to begin with. Why should... MORE
Right on, Kris Shoemaker! Marijuana produces secondhand smoke just like cigarettes, except that it's a narcotic... MORE

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I AM not a user of nicotine or marijuana. I personally do not care whether someone uses these drugs or not. The only thing I care about is respect from the smoker to not subject me or my family to the secondhand smoke.

Police agencies will not equally enforce the law that prohibits marijuana use in public. According to a July 9 KOMO 1000 radio news story, a Bellevue Police spokesman said that officers will issue a citation to violators whereas a Seattle Police Department spokeswoman said that officers will approach the violator and ask the violator to “voluntarily comply with the law” and to stop using it in public.

I do not want to walk by or sit next to someone recreationally smoking marijuana, or any tobacco product for that matter, and have to inhale and smell it. It is not fair to me or anyone who is not a user of these products.

Unfortunately, ever since recreational marijuana became legal in the state of Washington, there haven’t been too many places where I have not smelled the stench of marijuana smoke. I am talking about places such as Green Lake, Safeco Field, CenturyLink Field and Pike Place Market.

I was at CenturyLink for a motocross event a few months ago and walked by what appeared to be a smoking section. As I walked by, I about fell over by the strong smell of marijuana. What surprised me even more was the two Seattle Police officers standing only a few feet away.

Neither of them took any action toward the recreational users.

From my understanding, in accordance with Initiative 502, marijuana was only legalized for anyone over the age of 21, and it was supposed to be consumed in the confinement of someone’s residence.

Yet, it seems to me like it is being used more and more publicly by a variety of age groups, and now the Seattle Police Department seems to be publicly admitting that they will simply ask the violator to “voluntarily comply with the law.”

I hope the next time I get pulled over for speeding, running a red light, making a wrong turn or breaking any law in the City of Seattle that the Seattle Police Department offers me the same courtesy.

The law is the law. It is a shame that law enforcement now picks and chooses what laws will be enforced and what laws will not. The purpose for laws was to govern the people so that we all can cohabitate within close quarters of each other.

If I am forced to comply with the laws as a nonsmoker, I hope that the Seattle Police Department will enforce the laws on everyone else, including recreational marijuana users.

Kris Shoemaker of Bonney Lake is a combat veteran of the U.S. Army who served a tour in Iraq. He is pursuing a master’s degree in Global Education at Texas A&M University.



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