By David Anderson
Putting marijuana in the mainstream will not keep it out of youth’s bloodstream.
The board of the Tillicum Woodbrook Neighborhood Association (TWNA) opposes the siting of marijuana retail, growing, or distribution centers within the Tillicum Woodbrook neighborhood and the TWNA board further appreciates and expects that its elected representatives will give due diligence to that end.
With the passage of I-502 nearly one year ago, and the State Liquor Control Board (LCB) most recently having adopted rules for marijuana establishments, two (2) retail marijuana licenses have been authorized by the LCB for the City of Lakewood.
Even with the state-mandated distances from protected areas – “within one thousand feet of the perimeter of the grounds of any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, or library, or any game arcade admission to which is not restricted to persons aged twenty-one years or older” – neither of the two marijuana retailers should be allowed to locate in Tillicum or Woodbrook.
It is our TWNA board understanding that the Lakewood City Council will address this issue at its Study Session scheduled for November 12, 2013 even as the Liquor Control Board prepares to accept applications in mid-November.
According to the Municipal Research Services Center website, “If a municipality waits too long, it may not have any regulations in place at the time the LCB issues a license, and may not be able to use such regulations as part of its ‘written objections’ to any license” (p.14).
Tillicum and Woodbrook have long struggled to overcome a negative reputation but in recent years – and of late – there have been a good number of reasons to take pride in our community.
City leaders have sought to revive our “ailing neighborhood by improving its economic fortunes, reducing crime and fostering a sense of community,” a substantial investment to that end being the city’s installation of $18 million in new sewers.
In 2009, “the City of Lakewood announced it would use its share of federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding to partner with Habitat for Humanity to provide affordable homeownership opportunities in the community of Tillicum (where) it is estimated that over half the population lives in poverty (and) very few houses are owner-occupied.”
And then there’s Tillicum Elementary School, one of 99 schools in the state having recently received the 2013 School of Distinction Award, “which recognizes outstanding improvement in student achievement over a five-year period.
“The award is given by the Center for Educational Effectiveness, the Association of Educational Service Districts, the Association of Washington School Principals, Washington Association of School Administrators and Washington State School Directors’ Association.”
Tillicum Elementary School is thus one of “the top 5% of schools in our state who have made sustained improvement in reading and math over five years,” according to John P. Welch, Superintendent, Puget Sound Educational Service District.
Now that Washington, along with Colorado, has become a “pioneering pot state” – legalizing recreational use of marijuana – as leaders of the TWNA we object in advance of any contemplation that the ‘pioneers of pot’ should locate here, “unleashing an industry that will try hard to attract young users and turn them into ‘addicts.’
“Kids are going to be bombarded with this – they’re already getting the message that it’s acceptable,” said Kevin Sabet, “a legalization opponent and director of the University of Florida Drug Policy Institute, who served as an adviser on drug issues to President Barack Obama and former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
“The debate has intensified as momentum for legalization builds and as research shows increased marijuana use among youngsters. More teens are now smoking pot than tobacco, believing that it is safer.
“‘We are increasingly concerned that regular or daily use of marijuana is robbing many young people of their potential to achieve and excel in school or other aspects of life,’ Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said when the study was released.”
Despite the promise of Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson “that all of the marijuana will be sold in child-resistant packaging and that none of the state’s 334 retail pot stores will be allowed within 1,000 feet of a school, park, playground or video arcade,” Sabet predicted that attracting more young users will be necessary for the economic survival of the industry.
“‘This is about making sure that kids are hooked early, because that’s the only way that addictive industries make money,’ he said. ‘They don’t make money off casual users, and in order to get addicts, you have to start people young.’”
The TWNA board further is of the opinion that our neighborhood, and for that matter the City of Lakewood, has legal precedence to seek a declaratory judgment to protect neighborhood and municipal rights – marijuana retail sales directly and substantially affecting those rights – and we would welcome such action by the city.
“According to state law, there is no built-in option for cities to just say no and ban marijuana shops from opening within city limits, some have disagreed with that interpretation and declared an outright ban.”
The TWNA Board believes the City of Lakewood should follow their lead and ban marijuana sales thus protecting not only the Tillicum and Woodbrook community but all neighborhoods within the city.
On behalf of the board of the Tillicum Woodbrook Neighborhood Association, David Anderson, President