Law enforcement officers at area national parks and forests are reminding visitors that the use of marijuana for recreational purposes is illegal on federal lands.
The recently passed state law, which allows recreational marijuana use, has no bearing on federal laws, which continue to identify marijuana as a Schedule I illegal drug and prohibit its use, said Donna Nemeth, a spokeswoman at Olympic National Forest.
“Mount Rainier National Park, as do all National Park Service areas under federal jurisdiction, has the exact same regulations regarding marijuana possession and use that Olympic does,” said Chuck Young, chief ranger at Mount Rainier.
Possession of marijuana or use of any amount of marijuana is still prohibited on all national forest and park lands and at all such facilities. Violations are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.
Federal officials wanted to issue the reminder because of the change in Washington’s laws legalizing the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and stories such as the recent seizure of 40 marijuana plants from a Seattle park.
Seattle police seized 40-45 marijuana plants March 2 from the 9-acre Landover Woods Greenspace, on the Shoreline border. But the police don’t plan to investigate further because pot enforcement is a “low, low, low priority,” according to an Associated Press story.
Earlier this month, the National Park Service and The Conservation Fund announced the addition of a 34-acre property to San Juan Island National Historical Park. The newly protected land along 2,500 feet of shoreline on Westcott Bay, will enable the Park Service to enhance the park’s educational and recreational offerings at English Camp.
Known to many San Juan Island residents as part of the Westcott Bay Sea Farm, the property also offers rich upland forest and wetland habitats. The land was previously owned and managed by the Webb family. Representatives of the Webb family, local conservation groups and the NPS approached The Conservation Fund with the intent of protecting the property and perpetuating Bill and Doree Webb’s vision for the land to remain free from adverse development.
The Conservation Fund and the Park Service developed a conservation plan that preserves the land’s natural state, while enabling the family or subsequent owners of the historic sea farm to continue to use a portion of the tidelands for oyster-farming operations.
The park was established in 1966 to commemorate the peaceful resolution of the San Juan Boundary Dispute, or “Pig War,” between Great Britain and the United States. Military forces from both nations jointly (and peacefully) occupied the island from 1860-1872 following a crisis over a slain pig in 1859. The Webb property – along with Roche Harbor proper – was part of the military reserve charted by Captain George E. Pickett of the U.S. Army and Captain George Bazalgette of the British Royal Marines in 1860, following a low-key dispute over lime deposits at Roche Harbor.