PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. -- Tedd Weatherby took a big risk, operating a marijuana retail store in spite of a ban on pot businesses in unincorporated Pierce County.
“The idea that we hadn’t been able to be open without this cloud of the county hanging over our heads has been frustrating,” said Weatherbee. “But we made it and we survived.
Now he’s celebrating. Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy recently vetoed an ordinance that would have continued the ban.
Councilor Joyce McDonald proposed the ordinance after an advisory vote in April found 52 percent of voters in unincorporated Pierce County don’t want pot businesses.
They’re not the only ones. Other communities around the state have also protested the idea of pot shops in their backyard, fearing an increase in crime or how they may influence kids.
But supporters of legal pot say a regulated market is safer, and shrinks the black market.
Councilor Derek Young supported the County Executive’s veto, calling the recent election a sham, with a low turnout.
“It was designed to fail and then just barely did that,” said Young. “If you hold that during a general election I guarantee it passes.
Young says he’s tired of talking about something voters made legal back in years ago. The will of the people, he says, is finally coming to all of Pierce County.
“Ultimately, we’re winding up where we want to be with the will of the voters,” said Young. “They wanted a legal, regulated market and we’ve got that in place now.”
Young also believes this could lead other cities that still ban pot shops, to change course.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration is also hinting that, within days or weeks, it may remove marijuana’s classification as a Schedule One drug, a category that includes the most dangerous drugs like heroin and cocaine.
“I think as we move forward more and more communities are going to come on board and figure out that this is the right thing to do,” said Weatherbee.