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Published on Tuesday, February 25, 2014

City mayors to Legislature: Marijuana legalization enforcement needs support NOW!

City mayors from across Washington State are calling on the legislature to use a portion of marijuana revenues to pay for enforcement and social costs, first and foremost.

In a letter delivered to state legislators today, nearly 100 city mayors raised concerns that the state may fail to deliver the safe recreational marijuana market voters want. Marijuana sales starting early this summer will generate tax revenue that could provide for robust enforcement and oversight but without legislative action those funds could sit unspent or go to the state’s general fund.

The mayors’ letter states:

“The majority of marijuana sales and use will occur in our jurisdictions. This makes us responsible for overseeing permitting, code enforcement, ensuring money and drugs stay out of criminal hands, preventing distribution to minors, and addressing drugged driving and other adverse public health consequences.

If the state is relying on local cities to enforce new marijuana laws, it needs to provide some of the new marijuana tax revenues to pay for it – this is a matter of common sense and fairness. It is estimated legalizing marijuana will give the state significant new annual tax revenue. We’re asking for a portion of those revenues.

Communities are already feeling the impacts of legalized marijuana, even before retail operations open this summer which will dramatically expand access. The state has only 69 liquor enforcement officers and they will only focus on licensing. All other oversight and enforcement falls to local governments.”

It’s now estimated that legalizing marijuana will give the state at least $200 million in new annual tax revenue over the next four years. Cities are asking that a portion of those revenues go toward local enforcement and social costs and that it be provided as soon as it starts flowing to state coffers.

“Our communities are already feeling the impacts of legalized marijuana, even before retail operations open this summer,” said Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “At a minimum, the legislature should use marijuana revenues to pay for marijuana impacts. Voters of the initiative expect it and our communities are demanding it.”

The mayors’ letter to legislators can be found here.

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