Online petition: Let Seattle cops use pot

Apr 3, 2013

An online petition urges Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Seattle Police Chief John Diaz to “let cops use pot.”

Ben Livingston, founder of Center for Legal Cannabis, started the Change.org petition which seeks 420 signatures. By late Thursday afternoon—several weeks after it was first posted, it had gathered 159 signatures.

Livingston, who says he’s been pushing for pot legalization since 1995, says his proposal is the natural next step for Washington, and he wants Seattle to lead the way.

“It seems to me Seattle is most progressive city in the state, especially in regard to marijuana,” said the web developer and Seattle resident.

Seattle police have already responded to the change in law last December by reducing what used to be a three-year ban on prior pot use for new hires to a one-year ban. But for Livingston, the change isn’t enough.

“My natural next question was: why have any ban at all? Why disallow pot smokers the right to serve on our police force?” he said. “For me, it’s a civil rights issue." 

What’s more, Livingston believes pot use could help improve the department’s image. A photo caption on his petition site reads: “Pot will make for mellower cops.”

“According to the equation of the feds, they (Seattle police) have been doing more harm than good to the people,” he said. “Pot helps. Seriously.”

Livingston thinks the department should embrace a don’t-ask policy.

“Why are we asking about marijuana use specifically after we do criminal check, after we do a background check?” he said. “Pot’s legal now. What’s the big deal?”

But city leaders don’t appear to feel that way. The police department told him it is considering no more changes to its policy. The city council sent him to the mayor. And the mayor’s office, in turn, sent him to the police chief.

So what happens when the petition gathers 420 signatures?

Admittedly, not much, says Livingston, adding he created the petition to draw attention to the issue and rally support. He hopes the conversation will eventually affect change in Seattle, then spread to Colorado as well.