Can you smoke marijuana in Point Defiance Park?
It is a civil infraction to consume marijuana in Point Defiance Park, which is located in the City of Tacoma and the City of Ruston, Washington. While technically it is an infraction, it is easy to beat if you know the law.
It is an infraction to consume marijuana in Point Defiance ParkPoint Defiance Park is located in Pierce County, Washington. It is a popular destination for bird and whale watching, visiting rose and dahlia gardens, and trail running or biking. It is a beautiful and very large park that makes you feel miles away from Tacoma or civilization. It is also a popular destination for consuming legal marijuana.
The City of Tacoma has a City Code which makes the consumption of marijuana unlawful if in a public place, such as a park. Point Defiance Park falls within the City of Tacoma, hence the City Code applies to people who consume marijuana inside of the Park. If found committed, it is an infraction which carries a $103 dollar penalty.
While this City Code is new, we have had the opportunity to defend people accused of this Infraction. We assume that this is an Infraction / Citation that will be written quite often.
Here are the three ways to challenge (beat) your marijuana infraction1. While an officer may be able to determine that a person previously consumed marijuana, they may not be able to determine if it was consumed inside of the Park. For example, how would an Officer know if it was consumed in the Park, or in the City of Ruston, which is right across the street? If they can't determine where it was consumed, the City can't meet its burden.
2. Our experience has been that City of Ruston Officers are the ones who patrol this area. On the portion of the ticket where they are to write where the infraction occurred, the write the address of the Park, but probably out of habit, they write Ruston. In that situation, the infraction should get dismissed for improper jurisdiction.
3. The Cities and Counties are on their heels trying to figure out how to respond to I-502 (the legalization initiative). This is a new Statute and to our knowledge, it hasn't been tested at the appellate level yet. In other words, it is written sloppily. It makes "consumption" the unlawful act. However consumption is a word that is defined within the statutes in the context of alcohol, marijuana. Consumption in the context of alcohol means to eat or drink, not smoke. Therefor we have argued (successfully) that "consumption" only would prohibit eating edibles, not smoking marijuana.