Dear friends and neighbors,
As someone who used to work in substance abuse prevention, I understand the impacts of marijuana use, especially on our youth. I have done research on prevention and know that there are many aspects that affect whether someone uses and/or abuses substances. One of them is lack of regulations which leads to a perception of acceptance. As you know, the citizens of our state approved the use of marijuana and it passed in every Pierce County Council district. Because of this, I feel I must be responsive to the voters and residents in our county – all of our county! My responsibility lies with a well-regulated system that follows state law and protects our residents and our communities.
In 2013, the majority on the Council voted to not implement regulations, waiting, instead, for the federal government to legalize marijuana. Since that time, Pierce County has seen a proliferation of “pot shops,” green cross dispensaries, grow operations and an active black market. This is the result of the county not having regulations in place that limit the type, number and location of marijuana businesses. Further it has tied the hands of law enforcement and our Planning and Land Use Department, which has oversight of zoning and permitting.
On December 15, the County Council voted to amend an ordinance regarding marijuana sales. The amendments change the conditional use permit process by eliminating a requirement that sellers prove the sale of marijuana is not a crime under the Federal Controlled Substance Act. It also put new regulations in place. However, the final product has a few “buts” in it. The regulations will happen, BUT, citizens will get to vote again on whether to allow the legalization of marijuana. Remember, this issue was already voted on in a statewide election in 2012 and it passed overwhelmingly. Citizens will get another chance to vote, BUT, only in unincorporated Pierce County. Although we are elected to represent all of Pierce County the council majority decided to ignore the views of nearly half of our residents. In fact, NOT ONE PERSON IN MY DISTRICT WILL BE ALLOWED TO VOTE ON THIS ISSUE! Some citizens will get to vote, BUT, the vote is only advisory – a beauty contest. In effect, it is an expensive poll with no requirement that the outcome be followed. On top of that, it will cost the taxpayers approximately $425,000 – nearly half a million dollars for a beauty contest! Pierce County could hire four more Sheriff deputies for that amount of money. A much better use of tax dollars.
I support the removal of the federal language and establishment of a regulatory system. Without it, we will continue to see illegal shops, storefronts and grow operations. We know this is what we have to do. We don’t need an expensive election voted on by less than half the people in the county to tell us. Isn’t it about time we get control of marijuana and get the job done?
If you’d like to view results from the marijuana vote, please visit this website.