Pierce County Marijuana: Voters Get Second Bite of I-502 (Rotten) Apple

Washington State and MarijuanaRemember back in 2012 when Washington State voted for I-502 to legalize recreational marijuana? And remember how despite this vote and despite how the majority of Pierce County residents voted for I-502, Pierce County commissioners banned all recreational marijuana businesses within Pierce County? Well, in a significant turn of events, Pierce County’s commissioners are putting forth an advisory ballot in April 2016 giving voters the opportunity to decide (again) whether they want recreational marijuana in Pierce County.

yet again on recreational marijuana is downright silly and a colossal waste of taxpayer funds — it will reportedly cost around $425,000 to conduct this election (again).

Pierce County has been all over the place on marijuana for years. It allows unlicensed, unregulated medical marijuana establishments of all kinds to situate themselves all over the county, while fighting against legal and highly regulated recreational marijuana businesses that a majority of its own citizens clearly want. The county’s refusal to abide by the will of its people has also led to a lawsuit against the county for which its taxpayers also have had to foot the bill.

This new “advisory vote” will be both non-binding and will not be at the same time as anything else of import on the ballot. We are pretty certain that Pierce County’s commissioners have set it up this way hoping for a low turnout and “no” vote so that they will have created just enough political cover so that they can get the cannabis ban they so clearly want and yet perhaps avoid being viewed as undemocratic autocrats.

Pierce County’s commissioners epitomize the sort of backwards thinking that has characterized the failed drug war since its inception. By not allowing the I-502 experiment to go forward within Pierce County its commissioners have not only ignored the will of its own citizens, but by doing so it has fueled a thriving black market that it refuses even to acknowledge. Pierce County is well-known in Washington for its unregulated medical marijuana operations, many of which do not pay taxes or abide by local zoning or land use laws. Pierce County marijuana regulations have simply not kept up, and that failure is harming its citizens and its cannabis businesses.

We understand there will always be hold-outs when it comes to marijuana legalization, but to have elected officials ignore the votes and the interests of their constituents, as has been done in Pierce County, is anti-democratic, wasteful, and disrespectful.