Although recreational marijuana was legalised in Washington State over two years ago, over 100 cities and counties have banned pot-shops and the black market is still going strong. The lawmakers have come up with a potential solution: Giving the revenue generated by taxes back to the cities.
The bill proposes that a chunk of marijuana tax revenue be given to the cities and counties if, and only if, they allow marijuana to be sold. The courts currently uphold a city or county’s right to ban pot shops, and many cities impose this ban, seeing little reason to allow pot to be legally sold. This bill should hopefully change that.
With so many cities and counties having an outright ban on the sale of marijuana, the black market still runs strong throughout the state, which is one of the things that the legal pot law was trying to end. Black market sale of marijuana does nothing to generate revenue for the state, means the waste of police time, and a more dangerous environment for those who want to buy marijuana.
On top of the issue of the black market for pot still going strong, the difficulties that people face in trying to get recreational marijuana means that the medical marijuana, which is largely untaxed and does little to generate revenue, is being abused. The legal pot initiative was implemented largely to separate those trying to obtain marijuana for medical use from those who wanted it for recreational use, so that both groups could get a safe, legal product, while recreational users were being taxed accordingly, like they are with alcohol.
Washington’s legal pot law (initiative 502) passed in 2012 with 56% of the vote, but much of the state still opposed it, particularly eastern and central Washington. These cities, and even some cities where a slim majority was for the legalization, have banned pot shops, with the lack of revenue sharing being a major reason. If the cities get a cut of the revenue, like they do with alcohol, the hope is that many of them will reconsider.
The bill has been introduced to both houses in Olympia and hopefully, paying cities to bring pot shops to town will result in the spread of legal and accessible marijuana across the state at last.