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Homebreaking news usaHarmony, hope for Seattle City Council with pot-reform agreement

Harmony, hope for Seattle City Council with pot-reform agreement

Seattle City Hall observers hoping to see a glimmer of good governance and rationality have reason to smile.

Last week, a unanimous vote on an amendment setting up a publicly funded equity assessment of Seattle’s cannabis industry may not have been the biggest news of the day. But it showed that council members with competing governing philosophies can put aside personal differences for the greater good.

A 2019 city report showed that none of Seattle’s existing Black-owned medical marijuana businesses were given new licenses by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board after statewide legalization in 2013. The local cannabis industry is now dominated by white ownership.

Council wanted a Cannabis Needs Assessment to inform possible future actions, including new cannabis taxes and job requirements.

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda initially put forward legislation directing the assessment to be conducted by “a nonprofit organization such as We Train Washington, with experience in curriculum development, administering retail training and apprenticeship programs. … ”

We Train Washington is an initiative of UFCW Local 3000, a grocery workers union active in representing some Seattle cannabis store employees.

In response, Councilmember Sara Nelson drafted an amendment saying the needs assessment should be done by a neutral academic institution, such as the University of Washington or Seattle Central College’s Cannabis Institute.

This editorial board cited the debate as highlighting concerns about the role of special interests in drafting and implementing public policy.

After various twists and turns, the council voted for an independent academic institution, not funded by the cannabis industry, to conduct the assessment.

“We want to make sure that this is not moving into a proxy debate about the merits of either nonprofits or unions or workers or businesses or apprenticeship programs or anything. This is really about coming together and finding harmony,” said Mosqueda during the Tuesday council meeting.

It is gratifying to see the two citywide council members, Nelson and Mosqueda, work to find common ground.

There is much to be done to reform the cannabis industry, and no end of other civic challenges to resolve.

May this be just one example of many where the council centers policy on the public good instead of fighting ideological proxy wars.

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