Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Sawyer: Pierce County, Lakewood Councils can no longer ban pot without public vote

OLYMPIA – In 2012, Washington voters passed Initiative 502 to legalize recreational marijuana by a 57 percent vote. In Pierce County, I-502 passed in every district, 54 percent overall. The initiative also passed in every Lakewood precinct in the 29th Legislative District, represented by Rep. David Sawyer (D – Lakewood).

But despite strong approval from the people of Lakewood and greater Pierce County, the councils in both jurisdictions decided to ignore the clear will of their constituents by banning recreational marijuana stores within their jurisdictions.

Today, Sawyer successfully amended House Bill 2136 to preempt local jurisdictions, requiring them to put a ban to a public vote.

“Voters deserve to trust that their decisions count,” Sawyer said. “Despite a resounding decision from the people they represent, members of the Pierce County Council and Lakewood City Council chose to circumvent their voters and ban marijuana stores in their jurisdictions.”

Sawyer’s amendment (Amendment 341) will ensure county and city councils cannot ban recreational marijuana stores without placing the issue on the ballot in the next election year. It will also allow citizens to place a local measure to ban pot stores on the ballot themselves.

“This is how the process should be — this is how ‘the system’ is supposed to work,” Sawyer added. “If city and county councils want to ban I-502 stores, then they need to go back to the people who already made their decision.”

HB 2136 passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan 67-28-3 vote and now goes to the Senate for consideration.