Green light given on weed, I-502 in Spokane’s poorest neighborhoods


By Aaron Bocook, News Writer

When Initiative 502 passed in Washington in 2012, it gave the green light for the legal sale of marijuana in the state.

In Spokane, however, I-502 quickly became an over-regulated issue when the city council voted on the zoning for new dispensary locations.

Only the poorest areas of town are going to be on Spokane’s pot map.

According to Council President Ben Stuckart, the new zoning lines up with Spokane’s known poverty districts.

The council voted 6 to 1 against Stuckart to allow weed-selling facilities to open in Spokane’s centers and corridors.

This means if any of the possible negative aspects of the new industry actually happen, such as an increase in crime, exposure of the drug to a youth population or possible federal convictions, they will be happening more often to people living in the new “pot zones.”

“I think we should have embraced it, and created a weed friendly district of town which could be marketed as a destination for pot-tourism,” Stuckart said.

An additional problem with Spokane’s new “green” industry is the high tax, which is expected to raise over $51 million revenue statewide on the now recreationally-legal drug, making it hard to compete with the black market.

According to Stuckart, the only way to compete with a black market is to have the legal version of the product priced the same as the illegal product, and to have the legal version available.

“You rarely get an opportunity to switch from a black market to a legal market,” Stuckart said. “I believe we are over-regulating the market.”

The Spokane City Council failed on both of these points.

Once the stores start selling in early July, low sales due to lack of access and a “high” price tag may change the other council members’ minds, but until then, expect to find the green light to be shining on Spokane’s poorest neighborhoods.