The Langley City Council convened this week to discuss the future of recreational marijuana retail stores within city limits. Elected officials heard from constituents, had a healthy discussion and ended up with a clear position: the city will not try to block, temporarily or permanently, the establishment of such enterprises.
This is a good thing and the council should be congratulated for moving boldly ahead with the incorporation of Initiative 502, last year’s voter-approved measure that legalizes the recreational use of marijuana.
Other island governments, such as Oak Harbor and Island County, are approaching Washington’s new law gingerly with the adoption or consideration of moratoriums. They are partly waiting for the state to hammer out final regulations, but also stalling to not be among the first with new rules. Taking a cautious approach to trailblazing legislation is understandable and perhaps even legally prudent, but such concern is less warranted in communities such as Langley.
The council, described by Councilwoman Rene Neff as “products of the ‘60s,” is a robust reflection of the community’s demographic — progressive, forward thinking, Democratic. It’s a far cry from its more conservative neighbors in Oak Harbor and parts of rural Island County.
Also, while the council informally agreed quickly and decisively that it should be home to at least one of the four recreational shops that will be permitted in Island County — a number based on population — it wasn’t a didn’t-look-before-they-leapt decision.
Last year, the group strongly considered the adoption of rules that would have allowed medical marijuana dispensaries in Langley, but ultimately concluded that conflicting state and federal laws put the city in too dangerous a legal position.
Times and the circumstances, however, have changed. Now the state has a much clearer position on marijuana use and Uncle Sam has vowed not to challenge Washington in court. The federal government will instead focus on the promotion of safe and reasonable regulations, and ensuring that Washington’s new law does not adversely affect neighboring states.
Some Langley residents may not agree, and continue to have strong feelings about the personal use of pot. That’s their right and, like alcohol, it’s up to parents to educate their children about the dangers of mood-altering substances.
But with the recent state and federal developments, the council’s responsibility now is to move forward with the wishes of voters with as little delay as possible.
Elected officials are in office to represent the people who put them there, and Washington citizens have decided.