Monthly Archives: June 2016

Marijuana legalization is retroactive

The Supreme Court recently declined to accept review of State v. Rose, where Division III ruled that marijuana legalization in Washington State was retroactive. In the case, Mr. Rose, who is over 21 years old, was fishing on the Yakima River in Kittitas County. A Fish & Wildlife Officer approached Mr. Rose to check his fishing license. The officer saw a bong and asked Mr. Rose if he was smoking marijuana, which Mr. Rose admitted to. Mr. Rose was charged with possession of marijuana, which was still illegal at the time of his arrest (the arrest was on June 26, 2012, prior to the passage of I-502 on November 6, 2012). In October 2012, Mr. Rose entered in a deferral agreement with the prosecutor. In November 2012, I-502 was passed legalizing marijuana. In January 2013, Mr. Rose violated the terms of his deferral agreement by not entering drug treatment. The prosecutor asked to revoke the deferral and convict Mr. Rose of the possession of marijuana, which the trial court agreed to do. On appeal, Division III (in Spokane) ruled that while RCW 10.01.040 generally requires offenses to be prosecuted under the law in effect at the time they were committed, the statute has an exception where “a contrary intention is expressly declared in the amendatory or repealing act.” The court ruled that I-502 expressly declared that the legalization of marijuana was to be applied retroactively. Accordingly, Mr. Rose’s conviction was overturned. After loosing at Division III, the Kittitas County Prosecuting Attorney did not give up the fight and tried to get the Supreme Court to overrule the lower court’s decision. The Supreme Court declined to accept review, which means they agreed with the lower court’s decision. This makes it clear that marijuana legalization applies retroactively in Washington State (just in case another crazy prosecutors office sees fit to waste taxpayer dollars pursuing a measly possession of marijuana conviction).