As Lakewood’s (Washington) Planning Commission reviews early in this new year possible locations for retail marijuana (MJ) businesses in the city, here following in this first installment of a series are reasons why ‘turning over a new (marijuana) leaf’ – an idiom normally associated with a change for the better – is a New Year’s Resolution best left to die on the vine.
It has long been the position of Lakewood to deny the business license applications of would-be MJ retailors, those denials “upheld by the City’s Hearing Examiner.”
Lakewood has consistently maintained that those denials are in keeping with federal prohibitions of such businesses.
Now that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has allowed federal prosecutors to crack down on cannabis in states like Washington, will Lakewood continue to resist reefer madness before it was cool?
There are cracks appearing in the wall Lakewood has erected that has served so far to keep purveyors of pot from pillaging the city. No thanks to remonstrations from without, however, and reconsiderations from within, the city’s perennial protestations of pot proprietors setting up shop locally may soon be a thing of the past.
The Tacoma News Tribune Editorial Board (TNT, January 31, 2017) – as an example of a rather obnoxious outsider’s attempt to knock Lakewood off the so-called “fence of indecision” with regards MJ – says Lakewood’s denial of these licenses based on federal law “looks like an attempt to weasel out of making a hard call.”
Bringing heavy-hitter state Rep. David Sawyer, D-Parkland, to the plate, the TNT cited Sawyer and fellow sluggers Reps. Steve Kirby, D-Tacoma, and Cary Condotta, R-Chelan, as having created House Bill 1099 that would have forced Lakewood to “take an official stance on retail pot or forgo 70 percent of state distributed liquor revenues.”
To this “legislative shove,” as the TNT called it, Lakewood never even bothered to respond let alone protest down in Olympia, perhaps believing Sawyer and friends were not worthy advisories. In any case ‘the bigger bully bill’ reportedly never got out of committee, let alone to the house floor for a vote.
But that didn’t stop the TNT from even going so far as to recommend Lakewood jettison whatever principles and values city leaders might believe are pertinent to such decisions and go to pot because everybody else is doin’ it – a rather juvenile follow-the-herd rationale that in sad-to-see days gone by earned us a stand-in-the-corner time-out lecture from parents who wanted to make sure we heard that our choices should reflect we had a stand-alone backbone where so many have a cave-to-the-crowd wishbone.
Even in endorsing the ultimately successful Lakewood City Councilmember incumbent John Simpson in the recent election, the TNT wrote that Simpson, after all, “would vote to allow retail marijuana.”
According to Simpson, at least according to the TNT, he “would vote to allow retail marijuana in Lakewood not because he personally supports pot sales but because voters have spoken.”
At the Tillicum Woodbrook Neighborhood Association meeting just this January 4, Simpson reiterated his position.
“Who the hell am I,” Simpson asked, “to deny that for which the people have voted?”
That’s a good question.
It may be argued that when Washington passed Initiative 502 in 2012, voters understood the measure was for decriminalizing MJ. Indeed, Part I, Section 1 “Intent” of the bill filed July 8, 2011 reads “Be it enacted by the people of the State of Washington (that) The people intend to stop treating adult marijuana use as a crime.”
Post-I-502, when given an opportunity to provide feedback by way of advisory ballot measures offered by leaders in local jurisdictions as to the desire of residents to see retail MJ shops within their neighborhoods, the people – even though having voted for I-502 – opposed such operations anywhere in their geographical boundaries, most by a significant margin.
In addition to those referenced in the link provided in the previous paragraph, the following ‘realms’ where reefer retail was roundly rejected were the Cities of Snohomish (70% against); Bonney Lake (64% against); and Yakima County (59% against), the votes in each case reflecting a rather emphatic repulsion of the marijuana industry invaders.
For Simpson, et al, to claim Lakewood “voters have spoken” without an advisory vote as other cities and counties have done, hearkens back to the early days in Lakewood’s incorporation history.
“Those who cannot remember the past,” said George Santayna (1905), “are condemned to repeat it.” What the people of Lakewood are fighting for now, the people of Lakewood fought for then.
The precursor to The Suburban Times was the American Community Journal, edited by Ed Kane. In the February 2003 edition, Kane wrote, “For the entire history of Lakewood as a city (incorporated 1996), say frustrated movement organizers, the council has steadfastly refused to reach out and feel the pulse of the people.”
The movement Kane references was a push by the people for the rights of Initiative and Referendum (I&R).
The city balked.
All seven pages, for example, of the February 10, 2003 transcript of the City Council’s study session are permeated not with concerns that the council might be preventing citizens the exercise of voting privilege, but rather fearing what might transpire had the people the right to vote via I&R.
Then, as now with regards the MJ issue or for that matter the Rental Housing Safety Program, there were those who countered “that on issues of the magnitude that can adversely impact quality of life or violate perceived moral values of the community, the citizens should have a direct say, individual by individual, through the voting process or, at a minimum, a poll of opinions,” (ACJ, February 2003).
On March 3, 2003, Councilmember Pad Finnigan made a motion that the council “instruct the staff to prepare a resolution to approve initiatives and referendum for the city of Lakewood.”
Though then-councilwoman Helen McGovern referred to movement organizers as “a few angry citizens” unhappy with council decisions, John Simpson, in seconding Finnigan’s motion said then what should come back to haunt him now as to who should make decisions of such import – in this case the current battle concerning marijuana.
From the transcript of that March 3, 2003 council session, Lakewood Councilman John Simpson said:
“In listening to this and thinking about this, I’m reminded of what Thomas Jefferson said, in that the voice of the people must clearly be heard in order for democracy to work. The issue is that, do the people have a voice when they wish to express their opinion to the city government? And that’s why I think we should move toward a resolution” (in favor of I&R).
That was 2003.
Finally, after much hue and cry, on the November ballot, 2005, the Lakewood City Council relented and allowed an advisory vote whether to permit or reject the right of the people – a right enjoyed by the top tier of Washington cities – to directly propose legislation or overturn decisions of the city council – Initiative and Referendum, respectively.
In one of the largest landslides in Lakewood’s voting history – before or since, including even votes cast for unchallenged city council incumbents – the people of Lakewood voted 8,193 to 3,092, a whopping 70 percent in favor – to take their rightful place as master, not servant, and join the ranks of those for whom “the first power (is) reserved by the people: the initiative,” the second being referendum (Amendment 72, 1981, Substitute Senate Joint Resolution No.133, p.1796, Approved November 3, 1981).
The Lakewood City Council was wrong then.
And if an advisory vote is not in Lakewood’s immediate future with regards marijuana, then the Lakewood City Council is wrong now.
There is absolutely no legitimate way the Lakewood City Council can say – certainly not in good conscience – to use the words of Councilmember John Simpson himself or Thomas Jefferson for that matter, that, given the case presented here as to marijuana: “the voice of the people has clearly been heard.”
Not without an advisory vote.
Joseph Boyle says
Excellent, Mr. Anderson.
Thank you for your efforts to make the City of Lakewood a decent, rather than decadent place to live, work, and play.
With the recent action of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in mind, it appears that pot may well go up in smoke along with pot shops.
I would hope our Lakewood City Council would take note of the recent new development from the White House and choose to maintain Lakewood’s position of not being a part of violating Federal dope laws. Marijuana is still illegal.
Reports are starting to flow in that jurisdictions with doper friendly laws such as Colorado, are experiencing an increase in driver problems because of being impaired by marijuana. Impaired drivers lead to car crashes, injury and death.
If Lakewood caves and chooses to violate Federal Law, I would hope our council and city staff will find it easy to understand that as citizens, we will no longer feel obligated to follow any rules, ordinances, or laws formerly enforced by the City of Lakewood.
Lakewood City Council should lead by example by complying with Federal law. If City Council fails to do so, then Lakewood citizens may well follow their bad example by violating law themselves.
What may follow? Chaos.
Wow. You’re totally right! I always base my actions and take my example from what my city decides to do! Taking a stand against the federal government by asserting states’ rights will totally lead to rampant lawlessness! Your logic makes so much sense!
Seriously, that’s the most ridiculous argument against legalizing marijuana I’ve ever read.
Chas. Ames says
1350 words, David? Truth is simple; if you don’t want marijuana, don’t buy marijuana.
Abby Henning says
It’s not as simple as you think ” if you don’t want marijuana dont buy marijuana ”
Because what walks into the shop to buy marijuana comes out and it overflowes into the general public in a negative way .
I have first hand experience my office was near a pot shop in the Gorst area . They rented a church and opened up shop , right away we could see the people it attracted. They were everywhere walking , sitting on the corners , sleeping behind buildings and leaving garbage.
We were vandalized and had our wire pulled out of exterior plugs they pulled wire out wherever they could to sell it . The repairs were above 5,000.00 .
Finally one day the police asked if they could stage their cars in our parking lot , they did and then they stormed into the pot shop ,and that was the end of them . We have not had anymore vandalism .
I realize that not all pot smokers are like that but you can’t deny that these shops will attract crime . And that additional crime in police cost will outway that wonderful revenue John Simpson is hoping to get .
Lakewood why are you bring a neighborhood down and make it slummy .
Richard Dunn says
Why is everyone so against marijuana, when there is more crack, heroin, and meth in Pierce County. Try focusing on the hard damaging drugs that is destroying our communities. I don’t know you marijuana user who steals or commits other crimes, but once again another flaw in the legal system.
John Arbeeny says
Corruption at high levels of government invariably flows down hill. What we’re seeing is the “afterglow” of a lawless past Federal administration where the enforcement of law was at the whim of the executive. There are numerous personal and societal reasons not to cave into the MJ interests. I am also something of an expert in the personal aspect of MJ use. Remember I served in Vietnam for 26 months, smoked MJ on several occasions and saw the impact on those who smoked it habitually. Here’s some points to consider.
MJ possession and sale are still Federal crimes which could be enforced: the recent AG Sessions seem to indicate so.
The permissive government attitude and selective enforcement of laws under Obama are over. Sanctuary cities might be first on Trump’s agenda but MJ could be focus in future.
As a Federal crime, anyone renting space to a MJ dealer could be considered as benefiting from a criminal activity with the possibility of forfeiture of their property.
Banks realize this and will not deal with MJ businesses so a “cash only” business model is the only one feasible.
All cash businesses like MJ (and casinos) lend themselves to skimming and criminal activity.
Property owners who seek to finance their properties may find that income derived from MJ tenants is not credited to their cash flow qualification since the banks know it comes from a federally criminalized activity.
MJ, much more so that alcohol will become the drug of choice, especially for children since it is far smaller, concealable and cheaper that a 6 pack.
MJ has many physiological and psychological effects. It alters reality, values, slows down reaction time, sleepiness, giddiness, and can result in psychotic reactions.
MJ may not be physiologically addictive but it is certainly psychologically addictive and can lead to psychosis (the horrors) or other mental disorders even if only temporarily.
Driving while high on MJ is DUI.
When you’re high from any source you are in an under-achieving state.
MJ is retained in the body long after the joint is smoked.
Drug tests for employment may detect MJ and ruin another wise good application
I’m sure I can think of a bunch more. I don’t know if you recall a series I did on the “12 Myths of Gambling” which were very effective. It might be worthwhile to trot out the reasons given for legal MJ and bust those myths in a similar manner.
John Arbeeny says
Here are a couple of my experiences with the MJ legalization crowd. Several years ago after the legalization vote I had a young lady who might have worked in an adult club, attempt to sweet talk me into renting space in my building for a “pharmacy”. She didn’t look or sound like a pharmasist so I smelled something fishy (or was it herby) and asked if she meant a pot dealership. She said “yes” and I had to decline her offer. A day later she and a pony tailed lawyer showed up at the building and explained why I should rent to her……although she now appeared as just an attractive front for the attoney’s business interests. I explained my concerns about Federal law, Lakewood’s prohibition, and worried tenants who didn’t want a bunch of “heads” hanging around the building. The attorney assured me that the Federal law wouldn’t be enforced, that Lakewood wouldn’t be wiser as to the true nature of the business for several years and then could be tied up in court for years thereafter allowing me to collect above market rents during that period. The whole thing stank to high heaven and I politely threw them out of the building. After the Pot Lottery I received numerous requests by “winners” to falsify a lease so that they could retain their retail outlet won. There was a deadline they had to meet to set up shop. They offered significant cash for this with the expectation that it would buy them time to find an actual place for their business, if not Lakewood then elsewhere. These unsavory characters had no problem bending or violating laws in order to set up their illegal business.
Fred Feller says
There is a useful observation that may be relevant to the MJ discussion, “Just because we can do something does not mean we should do it.”
There are broad concerns here that deal with the question of what kind of community is the City of Lakewood? At the end of the day Lakewood is essentially a “bedroom community.” It is sub-urban not urban. (Hence the name of the “Suburban Times”) This is mostly a place where people live as a opposed to a business/manufacturing center. Yes, the City tries to promote new businesses for jobs and taxes but at what point do we sacrifice the conditions of our neighborhoods for the sake economic growth or development?
Marijuana sales have become an economic force but it is not an essential retail commodity that we need to make room for. It is just another way for people to achieve an altered mental/physical state that impacts the capacity to function coherently. Many argue that it is no worse than alcohol. Yes, alcohol is readily available in retail settings but alcohol, especially hard alcohol, is not a corner store or “ma and pa” retail model yet.
Marijuana is different than alcohol because marijuana does not require the infrastructure that alcohol requires. For example, think of the processes needed to sell alcohol such as bottling plants, warehousing and transportation. Marijuana is more conveniently marketed. The inherent ease of transporting and warehousing product makes it much more simple to supply retail store fronts. Therefore, it is easier to create more store fronts and retail locations. I submit that Lakewood – as a community – does NOT need to facilitate the further expansion of retail marijuana especially in the city where we live. It is a safety issue and a quality of life issue.
And please, don’t remind us of the fact that there are other drugs available (illegal) as a reason to support more drugs (that may be legal).
Even places that allow marijuana sales do so with restrictions – like no sales within a certain distance of a school. If the product is so benign – as alleged – then why have any restrictions at all on its sale and availability? It is not sufficiently benign to treat its sale without thoughtful consideration of second and third order effects.
Those who support retail marijuana in Lakewood will cite increased tax revenues and jobs as reasons to embrace the allowance of retail sales. These reasons speak to narrow self interest without due consideration of broader, long term effects. Must we be so short sighted? Can we please say no to something that really is not in our city’s interest and character?
Concerned Lakewood Citizen says
How about obesity as a “safety issue and a quality of life issue?” I work in the healthcare field and see so many people, young and old, with problems linked to obesity: bad hips and knees, diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems. Obesity causes billions of dollars in healthcare costs and yet we have hamburger joints just about on every corner in Lakewood. Why not limit these store fronts that sell products that contribute to poor health? Clinical trials in marijuana research have shown promise in health benefits, particularly in the areas of childhood epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Sativex, a mouth spray which contains THC and CBD, treats muscle control problems caused by MS. It is currently used in Canada, the United Kingdom and in some European countries but is not FDA-approved. Marijuana should not be classified with heroin and other opioids as a schedule 1 drug and should be legal in every state.
Gail Alverson says
If the majority voted for or against a proposition that is what should prevail unless reversed by the majority. You can’t pick and choose.
David Wilson says
It’s about time for Tillipot Shop!
Anderson + Sessions= same
Thank you again City of Lakewood Council, you are doing so much for us citizens and you don’t let the few complainers outway the majority who support you!
Tillicum is the best location because it has already been the location to buy for many many years anyway.
Don’t worry about Sessions, he has no real power, more of a Joke.
Put the illegals pot sellers out of business and clean up!
Same reply for the same story you did before. WOT
… says the city that has casinos and a strip club. This article is a joke, much like the morality of this city. Focus on how awful your schools are or how high the crime rate is, not to mention the gang problem
I am one of the majority of Washington citizens who voted FOR cannabis and I think it’s past time that we should have cannabis stores here in Lakewood.