After three years of legal recreational cannabis, Washington state is still working out some details.
The latest obstacle for Washington legalization is taking the form of a do-over vote in Pierce County, home of Tacoma, Washington’s third-largest city. The unincorporated parts of the county will be asked to reconsider legal marijuana in April, 2016. This decision stems from a December 15 vote held by the Pierce County Council, in which the Council voted 4 to 3 in favor of lifting the local ban on the recreational cannabis industry. After moving to lift the ban, an amendment was later added calling for a special election that would redetermine the county’s stance on legalization — this vote passed 4 to 3 on party lines. Councilman Doug Richardson (R) was the swing vote in each case.
Councilwoman Joyce McDonald, who voted to hold the re-do and uphold the ban, told the Tacoma News Tribune, “It’s important for me to get the voice of the people in unincorporated Pierce County, to see how they feel about this. Let the people who will be affected have the opportunity to have their voices heard.”
Councilwoman Connie Ladenburg (D), who voted to lift the ban and against the amendment, disagreed: “The people of Pierce County have already decided this in 2012, when 55% of Pierce County residents voted to legalize marijuana for adult use. The vote is not binding, so this is really like a 400 thousand dollar poll. We could use that money for marijuana education and youth prevention, rather than spending it on this expensive poll.”
Councilwoman Ladenburg points out that if the advisory vote fails, then the county will be able to start regulating marijuana businesses in the county within a month. In the meantime, Pierce County, WA continues to be in limbo when it comes to marijuana regulations, with an estimated 80 unregulated medical marijuana shops operating in the county today.
Photo Credit: Scott Hingst