After Washington voters legalized pot in November, Seattle’s PD
wants to be “cool,” and connect with the weed crowd
“Never in my career did I guess that I’d be passing out delicious snacks at Hempfest,” Sean Whitcomb told Salon. “But that happened.” Hempfest goers seemed equally surprised to find Whitcomb, a sergeant in the Seattle Police Department, handing out bags of Doritos and not court summonses among the bong vendors and joint smokers at the city’s annual outdoor pot festival.
They’re typically arch-nemeses, potheads and police officers, but the munchies were a big hit and both sides seemed to relish the irony, with the bags now selling on eBay for as much as much as $50 a pop.
Whitcomb and his fellow officers are trying to make positive interactions like this between two groups historically skeptical of each other more commonplace after voters in the Evergreen State legalized pot in November. They’re trying to educate — the Doritos bags came with information about the new law — but beyond that, they’re trying to make a connection.
Like parents who look the other way as their kids drink a few beers with friends (but confiscate everyone’s keys), the Seattle cops also seem almost desperate to be liked. They return confiscated stashes, write funny blog posts and use their official Twitter account to announce that the chief of police pulled over a truck adorned with fake pot leaves — in order to give the driver directions to Hempfest. And so what if there’s nothing less cool that someone trying really hard to be cool — can you really blame them?
“Absurd marijuana prohibition laws have long fueled contempt for law enforcement officials, and this type of outreach can help patch up that relationship between police and the public,” said Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group based in Washington, D.C. “It is great to see … The Seattle Police Department appears to be moving forward with the voters, as opposed to resisting the changes demanded by voters, which is unfortunately still the case in far too many communities that have embraced reform.”