Cop sparks giant joint? Not so fast, Internet

SEATTLE -- In the midst of a northwest festival celebrating marijuana and music, what appears to be a Washington State trooper is seen joining in and helping spark a massive two-pound joint.

The video went viral, showing up on several popular sites with headlines like, "Kind cop helps stoners" and "Helpful Washington cop assists young fellow."

But there's a catch -- it's not a cop.

"He is absolutely, in no way, affiliated with the Washington State Patrol," Sgt. Jason Hicks, a spokesman for the WSP, said.

The mystery officer is Steve Sarich, a medical marijuana activist.

"We're entitled to have some fun, and that's all we were doing, having fun with it," Sarich said.

He has owned the police "costume" for some time, often wearing it when he speaks out against what he considers the unlawful DUI portion of I-502, the ballot initiative that legalized pot. Sarich said now he's in a fight to save medical marijuana from the Feds, state, and governor, who, he believes, has placed the medical side of marijuana in the cross-hairs ever since I-502 passed.

"The same people who said we don't want you licensed and regulated are now complaining that we aren't licensed and regulated, and want to use that to get rid of us," he said.

If Sarich wants to wage that fight while dressed as a cop, the State Patrol says it's within his rights to do so.

"He's wearing a costume, he's exercising his First Amendment right to free speech," Hicks said. "Until he goes up and says, 'Hello, I'm a police officer, you're under arrest,' or 'I'm going to write you a ticket,' there's no criminal act."