There’s a team coming – our featured presentation – to the November 5th meeting of the Tillicum Woodbrook Neighborhood Association (TWNA), 6:30 P.M., to present their case as to why Lakewood should allow – since city leaders have made it clear they’re not likely to endorse – recreational marijuana (MJ) sales.
The meeting that evening will be held at Tillicum Baptist Church, 8415 Maple Street, since the normal venue – the Tillicum Community Center – is undergoing preparations for another event.
In the interim the pro-pot people have been invited to this forum of The Suburban Times to reach the widest possible local audience with their sales pitch.
Let the debate begin. Here is the first shot across the bow as to why creating a city of stoners is not in Lakewood’s best interest.
A bit of a hysterical er, historical review of pot.
Despite pot’s auspicious beginnings – the earliest recorded mention having occurred during the time of the pyramids, Pharaohs and imperialism where highly prized pot was buried next to mummies no less – pot properties have at times been both mystical – said to “keep away witches” – and well, mystical – marijuana reported to have inspired an inhaling Shakespeare.
More recently, with regards recreational marijuana’s slippery-slope predecessor ‘medical marijuana’ in November of 1998, the voters of the State of Washington approved Initiative 692 with the intent that “qualifying patients with terminal or debilitating illnesses who, in the judgment of their physicians, would benefit from the medical use of marijuana, shall not be found guilty of a crime under state law.”
Then, on November 6, 2012, Washington was joined by Colorado in becoming the first state to legalize the sale and possession of cannabis for recreational use since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, marking "an electoral first not only for America but for the world."
Initiative 502 – the cannabis or marijuana initiative – was passed in Washington by more than 1.7 million voters making Washington and Colorado the “pioneering pot states” in the nation, legalizing recreational use of MJ.
According to I-502 wording, the measure supposedly “takes marijuana out of the hands of illegal drug organizations and brings it under a tightly regulated, state-licensed system similar to that for controlling hard alcohol. This measure authorizes the state liquor control board (LCB) to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age and older, and add a new threshold for driving under the influence of marijuana.”
Marijuana producers and retailers would be licensed but not for a business “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.”
The state has determined that 334 retail licenses will be issued. Two have been designated for Lakewood and one could – allowed by Lakewood’s zoning – conceivably locate on Tillicum’s Union Ave. The retail marijuana sales operation proposed by “J and K Cannabis,” Jordan Michelson owner, is along South Tacoma Way at Ponder’s Corner according to what Michelson said at our TWNA meeting this past October 1 when he and his team first introduced themselves whereupon an invitation was accepted to defend their proposal in November.
Can a jurisdiction – city, town, county – oppose the issuance of a license to sell marijuana?
Yes and no. According to I-502 wording, jurisdictions have the right to file with the LCB written objections against the person applying for an MJ license. The state LCB then may hold a hearing and renders a decision.
Brian Smith, spokesperson for the state LCB, said “nothing in 502 allows a community to opt out.” He said if an applicant meets state requirements, a license would be granted. If a community tried to ban a legal marijuana business from its borders, Smith said there would be “legal friction there.”
“If the LCB issues a license to a marijuana producer, processor or retailer, can the town, city or county adopt an ordinance banning such uses or deny a state licensee a city or town business license? Obviously, it will depend on the reason for the denial, but some municipalities may argue that a denial is possible because marijuana is prohibited under federal law. The state licensee, however, will probably argue that the State occupies the field with regard to licensing of recreational marijuana uses, and that a municipality is preempted from adopting a ban which prohibits what I-502 allows.”
However, there is this: In Malkasian v. City of Sequim, “After an initiative is passed by the voters and subsequently becomes an ordinance, the city can seek a declaratory judgment against the ordinance. The court of appeals concluded that a city has standing to sue for declaratory judgment of one of its own ordinances because the ordinance ‘directly and substantially’ affects the city’s rights.”
While “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,” still “some have disagreed with that interpretation and declared an outright ban.”
According to an Executive Summary prepared by David Bugher, Assistant City Manager/Community Development Director and sent November 12, 2013 to the mayor and city councilmembers, as well as the city attorney and city manager, “Lakewood’s business code provides for denial of any business license to conduct illegal activity at the federal level. Marijuana is prohibited at the federal level.
“The Federal Controlled Substances Act prohibits sales, distribution, and processing of marijuana within the United States.
“Federal law preempts state law,” Bugher wrote.
However, on August 29, 2013, the Obama administration, through Attorney General Eric Holder, appeared to give federal permission to follow state law (successful passage of Washington’s I-502).
“The federal government announced earlier this year that it would not sue states over plans to tax and regulate marijuana sales for adults over 21, provided they address eight federal law enforcement priorities, including keeping pot off the black market and away from kids.”
May Lakewood then restrict sales to specific locations through zoning? No, again according to Bugher. “This measure (zoning) may not be authorized due to state regulation of marijuana. Cities may zone based on traditional classifications such as commercial or residential but licensing of retail marijuana sales is done by the State.”
Now that Washington has gone to pot, other than damaged motor skills, impaired better judgment, slowed reaction time, mind-altered short-term memory loss (the drug is after all a hallucinogen—a substance which distorts how the mind perceives the world you live in andchronic marijuana use is linked to altered brain structure), it’s psycho trance-inducing properties, the likely gateway to harder drugs (will we legalize heroin next?), and the fact that pop stars Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Lana Del Rey – Cannabis queens all – and Lady Gaga who appeared nude, crude and rude while flaunting doping perhaps hoping “to be on the front line of endorsement deals” once marijuana needs marketers, what else commends the marijuana industry that opponents say will try hard to attract young users and turn them into addicts now that voters have made it acceptable?
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, said that “more teens are now smoking pot than tobacco, believing that it is safer.”
According to a study released in December by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan, in 2012, 23 percent of high school seniors reported using marijuana in the past month, while 17 percent of the seniors said they had smoked tobacco. As recently as 2008, high school seniors were more likely to smoke cigarettes than marijuana.
The study reported similar findings in past-month use for students in younger grades. Seventeen percent of the 10th-graders had used marijuana, compared with 11 percent who had smoked cigarettes. Among eighth-graders, 6.5 percent had smoked pot, compared with 5 percent who had smoked tobacco.
“More than 12 percent of eighth-graders said they had used the drug in the last year, according to an annual survey released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.”
To what affect?
“Recent studies suggest that pot use could be damaging young users’ still-developing brains, affecting memory, decision-making and even IQ levels.”
“And the effects may be long-term, according to a research team at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Negative effects were found in heavy users two years after they had stopped smoking marijuana. The earlier the subjects started using, the more abnormal the effects looked in comparison to non-users.”
“Marijuana is every bit of a threat to young people’s health as alcohol.”
Even casual use.
“People who started smoking marijuana as teenagers and continued into adulthood showed an average IQ drop of 6 points between age 13 and age 38 reported US News and World Report in 2012.”
Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said “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. The children whose experimentation leads to regular use are setting themselves up for declines in IQ and diminished ability for success in life.”
In a letter to the Senate panel, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson promised 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.
We don’t want, after all, to play with the future of those kids playing on the playground, do we?
However Sabet predicted that attracting more young users – hooked on hookahs you might say – 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.”
You can expect the people pitching pot to promulgate the following: law enforcement resources can be focused on more important stuff like violent and property crimes; a wonderful new source of state and local tax revenue will be made available for education, health care, research, and substance abuse prevention.
Washington will tax retail pot at 75 percent and the initiative provides for a 25 percent excise tax at each transaction point: producer to processor, processor to retailer, and retailer to consumer.
But consider that the state legally allowed tax that can be levied on gambling, for example, is twenty percent. In Lakewood, thanks to lobbying by the ‘hard-up’ casinos, it’s been dropped to eleven percent. And pro-pot, foot-in-the-door activists in Colorado, less than a year following a vote to legalize, had already banded together to oppose the tax rates, saying they’re too high and will keep people in the black market.”
More reasons to believe prognosticating proponents of the profits to be had from pot are blowing smoke.
First, “if recreational pot smokers stay in the black market to avoid taxes, while the price tag for regulating a new industry balloons, marijuana legalization could suddenly look like a bad deal.”
Second, “heavy pot users could save a lot of money by paying nominal annual fees to be on the state medical marijuana registry and paying only regular sales taxes on their pot.”
Third, “Colorado (for example) has approved an ambitious seed-to-sale tracking scheme that includes extensive video surveillance of licensed growing sites and radio-frequency identification tagging. That could end up costing more than the 10 percent special sales tax produces, warned Colorado State University economists.
Fourth, in Washington, “State regulators overseeing marijuana legalization are asking for money to keep or hire 46 more employees. The biggest share of staff would make up an enforcement unit whose officers would oversee the businesses sprouting up to grow and process pot.”
Should pot-pushers profit off a people through sales of marijuana “associated with diseases of the liver, lungs, heart, and vasculature”?
Should kids sacrifice their mental capacity to a predatory industry whose spokespersons – like Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) who’s pushing for federal legalization in Congress – promise a portion of profits to provide for “needed school improvements, particularly in poorer districts”?
If this is indeed about the kids and if we do indeed care about our kids, then the answer is a resounding, no-brainer: no.
Source-documentation for all the above is available.