February 10, 2014

Seattle Police Officer Claims Hostile Working Environment After Refusing to Hand Out Doritos at Marijuana Festival

Since 1991, Seattle marijuana aficionados have held an annual celebration known as Hempfest.  The August 2013 event was unlike any of the previous ones, since Washington had only recently legalized recreational marijuana.

Even the Seattle Police Department got into the act.  With a lighthearted nod to the hunger caused by marijuana – or so we are told – officers distributed 1000 bags of Doritos with messages that explained the new cannabis rules (such as “Don’t drive while high” and “Don’t use pot in public”).

At least one officer didn’t appreciate Doritos duty.  According to KUOW-FM, Seattle’s NPR station, the unidentified officer filed a complaint with the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, claiming retaliation for refusing to participate in the Hempfest give-away.  The officer apparently asserted that participating in the event would have violated his or her political ideology, which is a protected status under the Seattle Civil Rights Ordinance.  Presumably the officer objected to the Department’s approach toward marijuana use, not its choice of snack food. 

Unfortunately the KUOW report did not reveal the specifics of the claimed retaliation.  And because SOCR investigations are not public, we may never know more about this case.

2014’s Hempfest is scheduled for August 15-17.  No word whether the Seattle Police Department is planning to feed attendees again.

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