Council Unanimously Votes to Take Marijuana Tax Money
Yakima City Council Members said they are prepared to defend cries of hypocrisy over their latest marijuana vote.
It all started with a letter from the Association of Washington Cities. They asked for mayors across the state to come together, saying there will be extra costs associated with legal marijuana like going after drugged driving and keeping it out of criminal or juvenile hands.
Some call Yakima's decision hypocritical, some call it responsible. Despite the all out ban on processing, selling and growing marijuana in the city, council members voted unanimously to join efforts in asking the state legislature for a portion of marijuana sales tax revenue.
The city said just because you it is illegal to grow and sell it here, there will still be people who posses and use it.
"You don't really have a choice as a city, when it comes to sometimes being forced by the state what you're going to do," Mayor Micah Cawley tells KNDO News. "If they force us to implement it and we say we don't want to be a part of the funding, then we hurt ourselves and that aspect of it."
Yakima Police Chief Dominic Rizzi said it is going to cost more to arrest people for driving while high on marijuana.
"We have to do a blood draw," said Chief Rizzi. "We have to do a search warrant. We increase our time that it takes to process these DUI's by nearly 50 percent."
Police said they'll also have to ramp up their number of drug recognition experts, again with a cost. Some people we spoke with agree with the council's decision.
"I think it's responsible," said Jannet Zavala. "If they're allowing people to carry a certain amount than they should be allowed to have a certain amount of money to back up any situations that can occur."
Others are calling city council members hypocrites. No one wanted to share their criticism publicly, but there were plenty of remarks on the KNDO Facebook page.
Some of them include, "Yakima banned it so no you shouldn't get any profit from it."
Or "Can't have your cake and eat it too. No sales, no sales tax."
The city said they are prepared to defend their position.
"A lot of it's punitive toward the city," said Council Member Dave Ettl. "We didn't get our marijuana stores so you shouldn't get money of any kind for whatever, and it's done more as a punishment rather than a thoughtful consideration of what the city will have to deal with."
Other cities in Central Washington that are on board with this notion include Pasco, West Richland, Prosser, Toppenish and Union Gap.