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Yakima wants marijuana tax money despite ban

YAKIMA – Despite banning the sale, growing and processing of legal marijuana, the Yakima City Council is seeking tax money from the state’s upcoming pot industry.

The City Council voted unanimously Friday to seek state tax revenue raised by businesses in cities that do allow legalized marijuana. Yakima also joined a letter by the Association of Washington Cities asking the state to share recreational marijuana taxes with cities, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

The five council members in attendance agreed with staff that easier access to marijuana statewide could affect local law enforcement.

“I’m prepared to defend cries of hypocrisy from now until whenever,” Councilman Dave Ettl said.

The request for state tax revenue is open-ended with regard to whether it would come from state sales taxes or the 25 percent excise tax levied on growers, processors and retailers before sale. More than 80 percent of revenues from the excise tax were supposed to be earmarked for health, prevention and public safety programs under Initiative 502.

Yakima police Chief Dominic Rizzi said marijuana-related traffic offenses take officers more time because they require blood draws. Rizzi said it would be unfair for the state to not share the available revenue with all localities because marijuana-related offenses will increase across Washington.

“It’s an unfunded mandate that has funding,” Rizzi said.