Almost 100 mayors from across the state are urging state lawmakers turn over a portion of legal marijuana tax revenues to cities to pay for local law enforcement and other costs arising from the new law.
In a letter sent to Gov. Jay Inslee and legislative leaders, the mayors — including Seattle’s Ed Murray — say that cities will be responsible for enforcing the new pot law and deserve a cut of $190 million in new tax revenues the state expects to collect in the next four years.
The mayors did not ask for a specific amount, but stressed that they needed a share of the taxes to carry out duties from overseeing permitting to policing drugged driving. Sharing some of the tax revenues with cities is a “matter of common sense and fairness,” they said.
Voter-approved Initiative 502 prescribed that most of the new tax revenues go to health care, youth drug prevention, public health and research. Alison Holcomb, chief author of the law, said mayors should be careful not to tap funds earmarked for prevention, which is “woefully underfunded” around the state.
Holcomb, criminal justice director for the ACLU of Washington, said lawmakers should first look to the 18.7 percent of the new marijuana excise taxes that are not already dedicated and would go to the state general fund as a source for cities.