It’s time for a reality check. Those who want to bring pot shops to Federal Way say it will reduce crime, eliminate gangs, reduce consumption of marijuana by youth and bring a tax windfall to our city. They are welcome to believe in unicorns and the tooth fairy as well.
As Jason Johnson pointed out at thehill.com, “It turns out that legalization of marijuana doesn’t eliminate the illicit black market, but may actually increase competition among rival factions of black-market dealers. State regulation, taxes, cultivation, and supply chain logistics force prices much higher for legal pot than its illegal and unregulated competition.”
As far as reducing crime, let’s compare Federal Way and Seattle, before pot shops, 2012, and after pot shops, 2018. Seattle saw a 21 percent increase in reported crime. Pot-shop-free Federal Way, in spite of significant population growth, saw a 3 percent drop in crime. We still have far too high of crime rate, but at least without pot shops, we are moving in the right direction.
Studies show the presence of pot shops in neighborhoods increases the frequency of marijuana use by young people. How can that be? After all, minors cannot buy from legal pot shops! Alas, the black market is more robust than ever. Illegal pot dealers are more than happy to let the legal pot shops do the promotion and then sell to our youth. Neither the legal pot shop owners (the plan in Federal Way is for a pot shop within view of Federal Way High School) or the black market sellers seem to care that marijuana use by young people interferes with memory, concentration, learning and brain development, lowers the odds of completing high school and increases the risk of psychosis.
But with the cannabis tax coming to the rescue, won’t the city’s financial woes be eliminated? Once again, let’s get real. With the best and most generous estimates, tax revenue would only amount to one-third of 1 percent of the city budget. To put that in perspective, the average household income in Federal Way is $54,000. That same percentage increase in the household income would be only $178 — hardly a panacea.
And what would we get for it? More crime, no reduction in gangs, more marijuana use by youth! It’s time for Federal Way voters to do what is right: Vote NO to Pot Shops. Vote No on Proposition 1.