As our Lewis County commissioners seek to allow cannabis businesses in unincorporated Lewis County, there are several factors that they need to keep in mind.
• Condoning and legalizing an item or behavior places a stamp of approval on it. According to recent research from the University of Washington, the legalization of marijuana for Washington state adults finds that teens may be more likely to use marijuana than they otherwise would have been. According to Jennifer Bailey, the study’s lead author, “early use and heavy use during adolescence can have a lot of negative health consequences.”
• Another report released more than a year ago claims that U.S. college students are using marijuana at the highest rates in 35 years. About 6% of college students said they used marijuana 20 or more times in the past month. In non-college adults aged 19-22, the figure was 11%. “Frequent usage can be detrimental to mental health,” said John Schulenberg, one of the researchers.
• A 2012 paper in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examined a federal survey of more than 9,000 adolescents and found that marijuana use was associated with a doubling of domestic violence.
• AAA’s 2017 study on road safety found that the number of drivers who tested positive after a fatal crash in Washington has doubled since the state legalized marijuana in 2012.
• The amount of revenue from Washington state’s cannabis board that Lewis County might receive is a very small portion of the annual $9 million the state distributes to counties. The exact formula to calculate distributions to any individual county is complicated and depends on population size. King County receives $2.3 million of that fund, followed by other counties with large populations. The amount Lewis County would receive would be very small proportionally.
• A proposal advancing in the state Legislature would allow adults 21 years and older to grow up to six marijuana plants, with no more than 15 plants allowed in a household. How would this, if enacted, affect (and thereby lower) the amount of sales tax brought in by state-authorized dealers?
What legacy are we setting up for our children and their future in this county when we consider a potentially destructive and dangerous drug a means to increase our financial pockets? Is the money more important than their well-being?