Monday, July 24, 2017 This Week's Paper

Guest Editorial: Tell the county council to let pot law stand

I am not a pot smoker. Never have been. Not much of a drinker either. Can't stand hard liquor – a beer now and then and that is about it.

But I voted to legalize marijuana because, over the years, I have had many friends and family who indulge and have been at many gatherings where the unmistakable smell of "the weed" hovers over the crowd. I don't care for the aroma – kind of like burning rope – but I certainly have never been alarmed by its presence or of anyone using it.

Through personal experience I have concluded that not only is marijuana basically as harmless as a good stiff drink but probably less so. Given the choice of being driven home by a drunk or someone who has smoked a little grass, give me the guy who is high. It might take me two days to get home but I would get there alive! And I would have a driver who was in pretty good humor all the way. Don't know about you, but I have seen way too many mean drunks in my day.

I am sure that most voters assumed the same thing I did when we voted to legalize pot. The new law would go into effect. The State Liquor Board would incorporate the new law into the rules they have ably administered for nearly a century and all would be well. When pigs fly!!

The new law went to the lawyers and bureaucrats in Olympia. Clown Town got hold of it. I won't even attempt to explain what they have done because the complicated mess makes the roll‑out of Obamacare look smooth as silk. And as they say in the TV ads, “But wait! There's more!”

Yes, there is more thanks to the Republicans on the Pierce County Council. The church ladies of county government decided that you – the majority of state voters – are not smart enough to have made the right decision when you did away with one of the most stupid laws ever enacted. They felt they had to save us from the sinful activity we were about to embark on. So they canceled the new state law in Pierce County. Democratic County Executive Pat McCarthy saw the absurdity of the council's ridiculous decision and vetoed it. The church ladies voted to override McCarthy's veto.

So there you have it. What happened to the Republican mantra of individual liberty, small government, wasted tax dollars and local control? They claim they had to follow the federal law. As usual when it comes to dictating your morals and forcing others to live their personal lives the way you want them to, Republican hypocrisy prevails. Apparently, God speaks to the Republicans but not to the great unwashed like you and me.

Let’s put the hypocrisy of the situation aside and just look at the cold, hard cash involved – your tax money. What will it cost Pierce County taxpayers to enforce a law the state no longer considers a law? We already know it will cost us $150,000 up front to defend the county council against a legal challenge already filed against their stupid action.

But let us look into the future. John Q. Public is driving home in Eastern Pierce County from his job in Tacoma. Before leaving Tacoma he buys legally from a state licensed shop a little weed for the weekend while he is watching "them Hawks!" Unfortunately for John Q. he has a taillight out and is pulled over by a Pierce County sheriff who notices on the seat next to Mr. Public a clearly marked little shopping bag from a legal and licensed pot shop – in Tacoma.

What happens next? What does the sheriff do? The Republican church ladies say, “Arrest the druggie! Toss him in the cooler for 10 years!” The sheriff has got to be thinking does he want to waste his time arresting some guy who is not breaking the state law, in a county the prosecuting attorney has shown little interest in enforcing what the county council has done, spend his time filling out the paperwork, etc. when he could be dealing with real crime? And, finally, does he want to tempt someone to file a false imprisonment charge against him and the county? I don't think so!

So what are we to do? The Pierce County Council is made up of seven council members from seven districts. The two Democrats are from Tacoma (of course) and the Republicans who are responsible for the stupidity that has already flushed $150,000 down the sewer pipe are from the county. Rural county voters tend to be more conservative than Tacoma voters, and you would think this kind of government interference, waste of tax dollars and attempt to shove their dogmatic morality down our throats would violate every basic political value they have! So, Pierce County voters, do something about it!

Google the Pierce County Council – tell them what a dumb decision they made and there are better things for Pierce County to spend money on. Also note the time each one of them comes up for election and you might take a look at some of the other things they are doing. You might not like that either!

William F. (Bill) Johnston is a Vietnam-era veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a graduate of Western Washington University with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and history and a Masters in political science. He is a first-place award recipient for Excellence in Journalism from the Society of Professional Journalists and is a current member of the National Writers Union – UAW 1981 (AFL-CIO).