Monday, July 8, 2013

City Council briefed on marijuana legislation

State marijuana legislation was on today's Seattle City Council Briefing agenda and a presentation was shared by the inter-departmental team working on marijuana issues.

Councilmember Rasmussen asked questions about public health affects of marijuana and if anyone is going to study health-related concerns.  City Attorney Pete Holmes stated that some revenue from marijuana sales will go to fund research on the short and long term affects of marijuana.

Mr. Holmes noted that he thinks that the recreational marijuana system will be able to supply medical marijuana needs.

Concerns about enforcement were expressed by a few councilmembers and City staff.  Councilmember Bagshaw expressed concerns about public consumption of marijuana on city streets and in parks.  Mr. Holmes expressed concern that the City does not have adequate funds to enforce all provisions of the law and hopes that some of the revenue from marijuana sales will be allocated to municipalities to cover the costs.  He also noted that Seattle Police Chief Pugel has his support to hand out tickets to people consuming marijuana in public.  Educating the public about the "no public consumption" law is a first step.

Councilmember Licata stated that there is no underground market for hard liquor.  (I beg to differ.  With  hard liquor being the alcohol of choice among Seattle high school students who drink, there seems to be a robust underground underage market for hard liquor.)  He also stated that when considering the negative health affects of marijuana, the beneficial medical affects need to be considered, as well.

Both the City Attorney and Councilmember Harrell discussed marijuana price concerns especially considering the potential of the medical marijuana market to to undercut recreational marijuana prices.  Price is especially important in preventing youth access and use.

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