Suzanne Buchholz, Reporter
On April 26, a vote occurred in Pierce County that could effectively ban the purchase of marijuana and shut down any establishments that sell the recreational and medical drug.
Out of 64,776 voters, about 52 percent voted against the legal production and selling of marijuana, according to the official Pierce County website. The vote was conducted in unincorporated Pierce County, which refers to the regions outside the limits of Pierce County such as Puyallup, Tacoma and Lakewood. These areas include South Hill, Graham, Spanaway and Parkland, as well as areas surrounding Puyallup, Bonney Lake, Eatonville and Roy.
After the votes were tallied, the issue was handed over to the Pierce County Council for consideration. The seven-member council would then take a vote to decide whether the ban on marijuana-selling business should be applied or if such businesses should be permitted to keep operating. Five votes are needed to approve or veto the vote.
The decision must be made before the ban expires July 1. The current ban is considered temporary for the time being, meaning that these businesses aren’t outlawed but must meet a federal law that prohibits them from marijuana sales, according to a report on The News Tribune.
If the vote is passed, it’ll reverse the effects of Initiative 502, which was initially passed in November 2012. I-502 legalized the possession of marijuana for anyone at least 21 years old. It also allowed the distribution of marijuana, but only by licensed farmers at specific marijuana stores. In addition, a 25 percent sales tax was put on marijuana, with the revenue being put toward the state general fund, local budget and facilities specializing in the prevention and awareness of substance abuse.
Certain Pierce County citizens are already protesting for the closure of marijuana businesses, including those selling marijuana to chronically ill people for medical purposes. On April 22, complaints were filed to shut down at least three such businesses including Green Meds Collective, Chronic Solutions Cooperative and New Millennium that have reportedly been violating ordinances in the city of Pacific. Seattle attorney Doug Hiatt said in an article by The News Tribune that this could have a negative effect on patients who rely on medical marijuana to ease pain.
Some students might wonder if this change will have any effect on them at Pierce, as smoking marijuana on campus is prohibited. Some students have said that they know people who use marijuana but haven’t witnessed this activity happening at school. Others reported that they haven’t witnessed this activity themselves but have smelled marijuana on campus, particularly on April 20, which is recognized by many as a day when people smoke pot and protest for its legalization.
Student Samantha Fournier believes marijuana-selling businesses should be able to stay open. She’s in favor of using marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes and said that marijuana has helped people medicinally, while alcohol is legal yet can cause health problems and car accidents.
“I think marijuana is far less of a problem compared to alcohol in the war on drugs,” Fournier said. “I advocate for an alternative medicine as compared to narcotics, amphetamines and opiates as well considering the aforementioned are addictive and habit-forming and have also killed over 25,000 people who overdosed.”
Student Ashyr Clairé said they thought people who use marijuana should do so responsibly and educate themselves on the repercussions that might occur. They didn’t see any reason to shut down marijuana-selling businesses as long as they were run in a way that abided by the law.
“I think they should follow all procedures and laws, but they are a business just like any liquor store or vape store,” Clairé said.
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