During the Pierce County Council’s budget debate at their Nov. 10 meeting, the body adopted an amendment that would create a special fund to enforce state and county marijuana laws. Councilmember Joyce McDonald – a vehement opponent of legalizing marijuana – voted against the measure, saying it will have the effect of pushing retail marijuana operations into unincorporated areas of the county.
“The amendment that created the so-called ‘marijuana enforcement fund’ relies on loans that are supposed to be paid back with excise taxes from the sale of marijuana,” said McDonald, who represents the 2nd Council District. “I can’t think of anything more backward than legalizing a drug so that we can collect taxes on it and use them to fight illegal sales of the drug.”
The budget amendment creates a fund dedicated to providing resources to the County Sheriff and Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, but does so by borrowing money from the general fund. McDonald says the funds could only then be restored by legalizing marijuana sales, something she says is the beginning of a much bigger problem.
“When the voters of Washington passed Initiative 502 legalizing recreational marijuana, very few of them could actually foresee the consequences. Now that it’s been more or less legal for a few years, people are beginning to experience the negative results,” McDonald added. “That’s why 62 percent of Federal Way voters banned marijuana even though 53 percent of them initially approved it in 2012. Lakewood, Puyallup, Fife, Gig Harbor, and several other cities have also passed bans, which essentially just pushes the problem out to unincorporated Pierce County.”
McDonald added that she is considering a proposal that would put the question of legalizing the production, processing and retail sales of marijuana in Pierce County to a vote of the people.
Joyce McDonald, Pierce County Council, District 2