Consumers are going to purchase marijuana. We either let them to do it locally, legally and in a safe environment or we force them to do business with criminals or stores in neighboring counties.
Choosing the second option will deny our county millions of dollars in tax revenue every year. That money could do a lot of good in our communities. It could alleviate the need for higher taxes, it could be spent on hiring additional deputies and it could be used to provide additional government services.
Choosing the second option also opens us up to costly legal challenges from existing stores that were granted area-specific licenses by our state and forces us to waste resources combating illegal sales of a legal product.
Instead, we should comply with I-502 and follow our state’s lead. I-502 hasn’t been the disaster that opponents predicted. Overall, crime in our state is down. We’ve also seen our county’s prison population decline dramatically from 84 percent of capacity in 2012 to 62 percent last year.
Legalizing marijuana has been a good thing, just like ending the prohibition of alcohol was in the 1930s. We’re on the right path. Vote yes on the county’s advisory measure.
(Figueroa is mayor of University Place.)