Police Interpret Where Marijuana Use is Legal - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Police Interpret Where Marijuana Use is Legal

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- Washington's legalization of recreational marijuana use is creating new questions for police on how to interpret the law.

People cannot use the drug in public view, but determining what is public view gets a little hazy.

Kennewick police found three men smoking marijuana in a parked car in a residential neighborhood earlier this week.

They were under the legal possession age of 21 so they were cited. But if they had been 21, officers tell me it probably would be considered okay to smoke in their car.

The law says it's illegal to use marijuana in public view.

Often people think that means the user needs to be in a private residence, but police tell that's not so.

For instance, if someone smoked behind tinted car windows in the back seat of a parked vehicle, that's out of public view and officers say they'd interpret that as legal.

"Is this the middle of the day and non-tinted windows? Clearly, this is in public view. Is this at night with dark tinted windows in the back of an SUV or a van? Probably not in public view. But officers are going to have to use their discretion," said Sgt. Ken Lattin, Kennewick Police Department.

Now, if a driver in a parked car is found using marijuana that's a different story.

When officers can prove a driver is under the influence and in control of the car, then they can be cited.

The fine for using marijuana in public view is $103. That's more than one hundred dollars cheaper than a ticket for drinking alcohol in public.

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