Dick Move of the Week: Dan Roach’s Reefer Madness

Look, I get that state Attorney General Bob Ferguson was just doing his job yesterday when he issued an opinion stating that, even under I-502, local cities and counties have the right to ban pot businesses in their jurisdictions. He’s a lawyer, and he was reading the law the way it was written. Even though I-502 author and Criminal Justice Director for the ACLU of Washington Alison Holcomb strongly disagrees with his interpretation—as do I—Ferguson didn’t act with malicious intent. The state Liquor Control Board asked him for guidance, and he provided it. That’s one of the things attorney generals do.

If I-502 was a normal law, and these were normal circumstances, it would simply be the process working the way it’s supposed to. But the fact remains that Washington’s voter-approved jump into the legalization of recreational marijuana use for adults is anything but normal, and Ferguson’s ruling only emboldens the players that could jeopardize the nearly unprecedented progress our state has made over the last year in changing courses in an utterly failed war on drugs: stodgy municipalities like unincorporated Pierce County, Kent and Lakewood that think they’re above enacting the will of Washington state voters and are currently attempting to ban pot businesses within their borders. While Ferguson’s opinion is, to use the proper vernacular, a total bummer, man, our anger should be squarely focused on the real culprits here—folks like Dan Roach, the chairman of the Pierce County Council.

In defending Pierce County’s ongoing attempts to block legal marijuana businesses, despite the fact that 54 percent of Pierce County voters stood behind I-502 back in November 2012, Roach told Bob Young of the Seattle Times, “If voters knew what I knew, they would side with me.”

That’s a Dick Move, Dan. And you know it.

Here’s the thing: People have been smoking weed in Pierce County since before I-502 was a glimmer in Holcomb’s eye, and they’ll continue to do so long after this latest round of political posturing is settled one way or another. What’s going on now isn’t about smoking weed, it’s about politicians thinking they know more than their constituents. And while I’m rarely one to applaud the acumen of the voting public (see: Tim Eyman’s continued relevance), anyone with at least three functioning brain cells can see the legalization of recreational pot use in Washington is a major step in the right direction, and all places like Pierce County and Kent are doing by not playing along is allowing for the sale of black market drugs to continue. Finally eradicating this black market for weed—and the crime, incarcerations, and ruined lives that go along with it—was the real meat of I-502, and now that worthy goal is being threatened by moral-high-ground backwater buffoons who aren’t ashamed to tell the paper of record that they know more than the people they’re supposed to represent. Should cities like Kent and counties like Pierce get sued for not allowing pot businesses, we’re one step closer to court cases built on the premise that federal law trumps state law, which, as Young writes, “might end with a court finding the state’s recreational-pot law illegal.”

In other words, we’d be back to the drawing board. Thanks, Kent! Almost Live was right about you all along …

However, as Young also noted, there has already been a bill introduced in the state House of Representatives this session that would “compel cities and counties to allow legal pot businesses or lose state revenue.” Hopefully that works, but forgive me for feeling less than comfortable putting my faith in Olympia to fix this mess, and then places like Kent and Pierce County to listen to them once it does. After all, the Dan Roaches of the world have already proven they think they know more than everyone. It’ll be a sad day for Washington if they end up screwing this up.

DICK MOVE RUNNERS UP:

Road rage: We all know road rage is stupid, but a road rage-fueled high speed chase where the two involved cars “struck each other multiple times” while a 2-year-old boy was a helpless passenger is just messed up … and a total Dick Move.

Melting ice caps: Why you gotta potentially drown us, climate change?

Whoever’s advising Russell Wilson: If there’s one meathead you probably don’t want to sit down with in the week leading up to the biggest game of your life, it’s probably Mark Driscoll. Wilson can be as Christian as he pleases, but everyone knows Driscoll’s bad news. Dick Move!

mdriscoll@seattleweekly.com

 
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