Barbara A. Bowden

Tacoma, WA DUI Attorney

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Tacoma’s Temporary Moratorium on Marijuana Is Now in Full Effect

Although the state of Washington has legalized recreational marijuana usage, the City of Tacoma has placed a temporary hold on new retail operations associated with marijuana use.

Specifically, it prohibits new retail marijuana stores from opening up while the moratorium is active, but the nine state-licensed marijuana retail stores already operating in Tacoma will be allowed to keep their doors open throughout this period. This temporary moratorium could last as long as six months, but might only last four or five months if Tacoma city officials are able to revise marijuana-related regulations.

The Tacoma City Council unanimously passed this decision on January 12th. Now, the Tacoma Planning Commission will seek to devise new rules for the maximum number of marijuana-related storefronts there. The issue of medical and recreational marijuana legislation has been present in Tacoma ever since the state legalized the drug for recreational use, but this official pause is the first time that city officials have made an effort to revise older regulations in order to comply with newer state regulations. Up until now, marijuana usage has been a sort of gray area for Tacoma residents and regulations haven’t been strictly enforced.

The bad news is that there are more than 60 stores in Tacoma offering medical marijuana products; with the exception of those nine state-licensed stores, each store will be forced to close down or apply for a license from the state. Consequently, this could turn into a very competitive industry even if the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board decides to allocate more retail marijuana licenses for Tacoma; at the moment, the city is only allowed to have 16 licenses.

On the bright side, Tacoma officials are only aiming to create a more standardized legal process for marijuana usage. They aren’t trying to wipe out retail marijuana locations entirely. Although this could drive up the overall cost of products, residents will still be able to purchase products legally and safely during, and after, the temporary moratorium.

The issue of DUI laws is also an important detail that Tacoma will have to consider. Driving under the influence can apply to an alcohol-related incident, but it can also apply to situations involving illegal drugs and prescription drugs.

Even though many people don’t consider marijuana to produce the same sort of recklessness that alcohol or stimulant drugs may produce in individuals, it will be important to devise a method for issuing, prosecuting, and defending DUI charges related to marijuana.

There’s plenty of information available about the dangers of drunk driving, and this helps legislators determine reasonable laws. Drunk driving incidents cost the U.S. $199 billion annually, for example. Additional research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that around 29.1 million people drive while intoxicated every year, and over half of all convicted drunk drivers still drive on a suspended license.

The issue of marijuana-related DUI charges isn’t so simple, and some of that is related to the fact that we don’t have the same statistics available. But one thing is clear: marijuana-related DUI charges will still exist, both during and after this moratorium.

If you find yourself facing one of these charges or if you would like to know more about how drug use falls under DUI laws, contact the experienced DUI lawyers at The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden.