Smoking pot in public: No longer a crime but violators face $103 ticket

Smoking pot in public: No longer a crime but violators face $103 ticket
YAKIMA, Wash. -- When the clock hits midnight it will be high times in Washington as pot becomes legal under state law. But where will you be able to get high and what places are off limits?

It's a question many people KIMA spoke with didn't know the answer to so we went to Yakima police for answers.

"Let's take this street corner for example; if someone was smoking weed here, would that be allowed?" Action News asked YPD.

"It's not allowed," said Yakima Police Captain Rod Light. "However, it's going to be an infraction. It's not criminal."

That means you won't be arrested for smoking weed in public unless, of course, you're driving high. Those same rules apply to alcohol.

"It'll be a discretionary call of the officers," said Light. "They can get out and say don't do that, put it out here or they're going to write them a ticket."

It's a ticket that will cost you $103 bucks. That's more than being caught drinking alcohol in public.

"Should people be allowed to smoke in public?" KIMA asked a Yakima resident.

"I don't think so actually because you're letting little kids be exposed to the marijuana smoke," said Garrett Gefroh. "It's ok for people to smoke, but not when little kids are around."

"I think it should be kept to your own homes," said Yakima resident Simon Morris. "I think it's something that should be your own thing."

So, as long as you're at least 21 and lighting up on your private property, the police won't be able to stop you.

YPD said it would be nicer to have tougher rules about smoking in public, but they're just enforcing the laws they don't create.

KIMA also learned the Yakima County Sheriff's Office will take the same approach by writing tickets for smoking in public.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a statement that it's reviewing the new laws here in Washington and in Colorado.

U.S. attorneys maintain they are responsible for enforcing federal law, which still classifies pot as illegal.