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Jason Rantz

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Is changing pot shop laws now unfair to businesses?

(AP)

A Republican state legislator wants to include preschools and school bus stops to the 1,000 foot zone pot shops must exist outside of. But is it fair to businesses already inside that buffer zone?

RELATED: Seattle pot shop owner responds to new federal weed policy

Brad Klippert represents Washington’s 8th legislative district and he’s the one behind a proposed bill trying to change the buffer.

“When I was in a committee hearing, they told us in that 38 percent of the kids in the Seattle school district who are using or possess marijuana, say that they got it from someone associated with the medical use of marijuana,” Klippert told KTTH’s Jason Rantz.

 

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board already has laws on the books outlawing pot shops from being within 1,000 feet of:

  • Elementary or secondary schools
  • Playgrounds
  • Recreation centers
  • Child care centers*
  • Public parks
  • Public transit centers
  • Libraries
  • Any game arcade (where admission is not restricted to persons age twenty-one or older)

*Preschools not registered with the Department of Early Learning don’t qualify as child care centers, as per a June 2018 ruling reported by The Tri-City Herald

Klippert’s proposed legislation would be retroactive.

According to Klippert, if passed, the bill would give pot shops already within 1,000 feet of preschools and school bus stops until the end of the calendar year to “try and recoup any losses they might incur before they shut down.” After that, they would have to shut their doors for good. That’s further complicated by school bus stops, which often change location from year to year.

“Which makes it inherently unfair to a business,” argued Rantz. “It’s difficult to exist under rules that can change at any moment.”

Klippert, though, doesn’t see it that way.

“Each and every one of those business owners knew it was against federal law when they started that business,” he said.

Klippert’s hope is that expanding the 1,000 foot buffer zone for pot shops to encompass preschools and school bus stops will make it more difficult for children to get marijuana.

“But they’re still going to get the weed, right?” posited Rantz. “So you’re not actually stopping the person or people from purchasing the weed and giving it to kids. Let’s say you’re 1,005 feet away from a preschool — how does that change the amount of marijuana that gets in the hands of the youth?”

For Rantz, the bigger issue is a law that could very well be “a roundabout way of changing the legality of marijuana in Washington.” For a frame of reference, he cited a recent political battle in Seattle.

Isn’t a Seattle progressive doing the same thing against guns, that you and I both say is wrong, which is saying ‘my constituency here in Seattle, they’re anti gun so I’m going to circumvent the Constitution as much as humanly possible so that they don’t gain access to a weapon’? You and I would both say that’s wrong, but when it comes to marijuana, you’re saying it’s OK.

The numbers

Are more youths actually using marijuana following its legalization in Washington?

The most recent numbers from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health claim the amount of 12-to-17-year-olds that have used marijuana in the past month hasn’t significantly changed since legalization. In fact, usage has decreased in both Washington and Colorado.

In 2013-14, 10.06 percent of Washington kids aged 12-to-17-years-old reported using marijuana. Since then, that number has dropped to 8.96 percent. In Colorado, over that same period, it’s gone from 12.56 percent down to 9.02 percent.

Klippert disagreed, citing his personal experience.

“Talk to the school resource officers who are actually in the schools with the children like I am, and they will tell you that there’s a dramatic increase of marijuana use in our schools by our children,” he claimed.

It remains to be seen whether Klippert’s bill will gather enough votes to pass the state Legislature.

“Whether I have enough support or not, I don’t know,” he said.

RELATED: Should the cannabis industry have seen an edible ban coming?

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