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Coming soon: The South Tacoma marijuana district

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on July 11, 2012 at 6:20 pm with 12 Comments »
July 12, 2012 10:34 am

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Take a look at the map to the right.

The dark spots mark properties where “medical marijuana” could be sold under a plan the Tacoma City Council appears ready to approve. There are numerous potential sales sites, especially in South Tacoma.

The dark spots with diagonal stripes mark areas where the marijuana can be grown in collective gardens and sold to anyone with an easy-to-obtain “green card.”

Note the broad grow-and-sell zone running down South Tacoma Way. Few other Washington cities feel the need to accommodate marijuana sales – which are illegal under state and federal law – so the plan promises to turn South Tacoma and the South End into magnets for many of the region’s marijuana seekers.

All this is great if you believe marijuana should be commercially sold – despite the law – and that the selling largely belongs in Tacoma’s lower-income neighborhoods. (The North End and Northeast Tacoma would be mostly excused from this duty.)

It’s not so good if you believe that Washington’s medical marijuana law is being broadly exploited by common drug seekers and profiteers enabled by officials in Tacoma and a handful of other cities. Not so good, too, if you don’t want to see the City Council bestow its seal of approval on what amounts to sanitized marijuana trafficking in the poorer parts of the city.

It would be easy for the City Council to do medical marijuana right, just by tweaking that map.

The issue is the selling of marijuana, not its use by seriously sick people who can’t get relief by other means. The collective gardens are legitimate. These are carefully defined under state law as operations that grow medical cannabis exclusively for a maximum of 4510 patients.

Collective gardens in Tacoma’s industrial areas could supply the city’s legitimate patients without the help of a commercial pot-selling industry. But the City Council appears intent on protecting the profitable marijuana “dispensaries” that have sprung up illegally around the city.

Even a dispensary arguably could be both legal and helpful if it were nonprofit and supplied marijuana only to members of an affiliated collective garden.

That’s not what the City County has in mind. The proposal before it – developed by a see-no-evil task force it commissioned – would effectively allow dispensaries to sell the drug to anyone who walked in the door with the requisite document. The so-called green card can be obtained as easily as describing an ache to a nurse practitioner via Skype.

As the task force pointed out, there’s much to be said for creating a legal framework that would restrict medical marijuana locations and allow Tacoma police to better monitor them. But that could be done far more easily by sticking to collective gardens and not perpetuating the illegal stores.

To date, the current City Council has shown little interest in policing any sales of marijuana labeled as “medicine.” South Tacomans take note: Whatever regulations the council adopts for this industry are not likely to be seriously enforced.

Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. There are many smoke shops & dispensaries on 6th Ave and I see they would remain, with this map. They are very visible, too, compared to some others in the south end. There are also spots on Pearl and in Old Town.

  2. Prufrock1962 says:

    Wow! The way I read this map, all of TCC and the strip mall across the street will be declared “distribution only” zones. Good to see that the college experience hasn’t changed much. Maybe they could declare the college a “grow” area; then the state could fund a horticulture program there.

  3. Prufrock1962 says:

    The more I study this map, the more I question the accuracy of the TNT’s report. I don’t think this is a map of a PROPOSED m&m distribution and growth zoning framework. No, I am pretty sure this a map of CURRENT activity, especially all the grow ops down in the port area (someone has to use all those empty warehouses). OK, now I get it. I can’t wait to see the actual proposal.

    Maybe they could loosen stuff up enough so there are slow moving trucks that go through all neighborhoods, playing some obnoxious music in an endless loop, selling medical treats to all of Tacoma’s unhealthy masses. The trucks would be something between an ice cream truck and a meds-on-wheels sort of system. Come on City Council, we can way out in front on this whole distribution thing. But you have to think outside of the box a bit, man.

  4. notSpicoli says:

    While I-502 does not replace the state’s medical cannabis law, it would provide a source for cannabis for those who do not wish to participate in a collective garden or grow marijuana. Dispensaries are illegal under both state and federal law but are tolerated in parts of the state.

    And, since I-502 allows all adults to purchase marijuana, those who use it as a medicinal herb wpud not be required to have a health care provider;s recommendation.

    For more information in I-502 and medical marijuana, check out the FAQ’s at the New Approach Washington website.

  5. billybushey says:

    Why not just legalize, tax and regulate, period? We can drop the fig leaf approach of medical marijuana ( legitimate for sure but exploited as outlined in the article)eliminate the costly, ridiculous and totally ineffective “War on Drugs” approach, collect much need revenue at the same time we reduce enforcement costs and move on to serious issues.

  6. notSpicoli says:

    BilleyBushey, that’s what we will be voting on in November. I-502 would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana in the state of Washington. Sounds like we have your support.

  7. billybushey says:

    NotSpicoli: Roger that! Every now and then, something that makes sense in life pops up. Maybe we can set the tone for a national debate. Raise revenue, reduce enforcement costs, reduce federal bureaucracy (ATF), make space in prisons for real felons, and kill the drug testing industry. Where’s the down side? You have my vote.

  8. Ortingmom says:

    I am still on the fence on this one.

  9. BigSwingingRichard says:

    I cannot wait for the Tacoma pot stores to begin advertising on the new video billboards, all thanks to the fools who occupy our city council.

  10. PumainTacoma says:

    Why don’t you stick it across the street the the TACOMA NEWS TRIBUNE.

    Get it out of the south, west, east ends of town….or stick it next to your liberal mayor’s house.

  11. susie815 says:

    i look at it this way, people are going to smoke weed whether legal or not legal, this has been a debate for years on making it legal, just get it over with and legalize it. our state is in debt and instead of spending money on policing this and also tying up money in the court systems,more tax payer money. Let the stores open,tax the hell out of it, it will also create jobs and bring in revenue for our state. people think this is going to create problems making it legal and having stores, well i disagree,people who smoke pot,get lazy and get the munchies, people who drink, well lets see get in cars and drive, some get wild and crazy, some are mean drunks and then we have fights, im 51 years old not some crazy little teenager, in my younger days i smoked weed and when i decided to become a nurse, it was nothing to just not smoke it, i never had withdrawls physically or mentally.Look what happens when you are an alcoholic trying to get off alcohol. I also as a nurse have seen using pot for pain,nausea,sleep issues, i feel we would decrease medication use and so cost savings for insurance companys, because they would be saving on prescription meds. I also see this as such a practical way for our state to help with its debt. Wake up people, weed has been around for how long? and it being illegal hasnt stopped people from smoking it. So why not help out having tax increases and use this as a way to help lower the taxes in this county and state. I dont use and im all for it. I only see this as a positive for all. I bet you would really see nothing but positive if people would just stop fighing this. I know of so many people, very professional people who smoke weed, not on the job, but like so many people that would have a drink after work, they have a smoke afterwork. so just stop making this so negative and look at all the positives that can come out of it.also if they legalize this, maybe we wouldnt have the problems arizing with crazy stuff like spice and those other things people are coming up with to get the same effect of pot, just so they can pass a piss test, yet they end up going crazy off of it, really how many people that smoke regular pot eat peoples faces, or do crazy crap…

  12. olympicmtn says:

    Stick the Marijuana joints at the Narrow Bridge toll booth so we can get a 2 for 1 special as we fork over money!

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