Urban Politics #244: Council Committees & Marijuana Report


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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.

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CONTENTS:

  • COUNCIL COMMITTEES
  • MARIJUANA REPORT
  • IMPACTS OF INITIAVE 75

 

COUNCIL COMMITTEES

Today, Monday January 7th, the Council began the New Year by selecting a new Council President and a new Committee Structure with new Chairs. Councilmember Richard Conlin was elected as Council President and his two-year term begins today.

The Council President directs the 80-member Legislative Department. If the Mayor is absent from the City or is incapacitated, the Council President acts as the Mayor. The Council President also runs the Full Council’s meetings that establish the laws of the City.

I believe that Richard Conlin will make a very good Council President. He brings with him a true sense of social justice and concern about the environmental future of our city. He has also been one of the strongest proponents for an open and transparent government and I expect him to continue to carry on and promote measures that give our citizens better access to our decision making process.

The Council also passed a resolution establishing the new committee structure, with chairs and membership listed, as well as their subject areas.

The Committees and their Chairs are as follows:

Culture, Civil Rights, Health, and Personnel Committee  – Nick Licata

Energy and Technology Committee – Bruce Harrell

Environment, Emergency Management, and Utilities Committee – Richard Conlin

Finance and Budget Committee – Jean Godden

Housing and Economic Development Committee – Richard McIver

Labor Committee – Nick Licata

Parks and Seattle Center Committee – Tom Rasmussen

Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee – Sally Clark

Public Safety, Human Services and Education Committee – Tim Burgess

Transportation Committee – Jan Drago

 

MARIJUANA REPORT

The report of the Marijuana Policy Review Panel on the impacts of Initiative 75 was presented to the Council at this Monday morning Briefings Meeting, January 7th. Seattle voters passed Initiative 75 with 58 percent of the vote in September 2003 saying they wanted marijuana possession to be the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority. View the full report.

The information provided below was taken from the testimony of Dominic Holden who was a citizen member of the Marijuana Policy Review Panel and had been one of the organizers for Initiative 75.

The Marijuana Policy Review Panel found the law mandated by Initiative 75 was implemented: City Attorney Tom Carr indicated he was implementing the measure in good faith and that he was reviewing every marijuana filing, and the Seattle Police Department notified officers of the law and made reference to the law’s passage in an internal document. These efforts were reflected by a decline in marijuana possession arrests and prosecutions. Marijuana referrals from the SPD and case filings by the City Attorney’s Office dropped markedly in the year following measure’s passage. Filings dropped by over 50 percent from the previous year, and there was also a sharp drop in filings related to overall caseload at the City Attorney’s Office.

 

IMPACTS OF INITITIAVE 75

The panel found no adverse impacts as a result of the measure.

None of the data reviewed by the Panel suggest any adverse impact on public health. In specific, it should be noted that the prevalence of use of marijuana among 8th, 10th and 12th grade students surveyed in Seattle Public Schools remained essentially unchanged, even declining slightly in some instances, from the years prior to and then subsequent to the passage of I-75.

There is no evidence that crime increased coincident with reduced frequencies of marijuana arrests and prosecutions.

Although there were some expenses for administering the Marijuana Policy Review Panel, these costs are likely a one-time expenditure, as the panel has recommended to disband, and those costs were less than half of the opportunity savings realized in the first year following I-75’s passage.

There are detailed charts provided in the report showing the gender and ethnicity of those arrested for marijuana possession. There is a noticeable difference between the percent of African Americans living in the city and those arrested for marijuana possession. The Panel did not make any conclusions as to why there was such a difference other than to recommend that the data collected and any future data to be collected is looked at further.

The panel having completed its work will now disband.

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