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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: Pot grower on the City Council will bring big changes

This is a historic moment for Spokane government.

It came with news that City Councilwoman Karen Stratton is running a marijuana grow operation with Chris Wright, her hubby and park board member, plus others.

It’s unprecedented having a member of city government so cannabis-connected.

So openly, I mean.

Half the council members I’ve met over the past 30 years seemed like they were on something. That, of course, may have had more to do with my overall jaundiced view of politicians.

But what makes Stratton’s involvement so history-making is that ganja wrangling is now as legal as can be thanks to the passage of I-502.

Providing you fill out all the proper paperwork, that is.

For the record, both Stratton and Wright say they don’t partake of the magic herb. This is about business and helping bring marijuana into the mainstream, they say in our news coverage.

Bully for them.

Still, seeing whom Stratton decided to NOT let in on this bongshell was quite revealing.

Stratton was selected not long ago to fill the void created when Steve Salvatori abdicated his City Council throne.

Our newest council member says she informed Council President Ben Stuckart and others on the council.

Those out of the loop, however, were Mayor David Condon and council members Mike Fagan and Mike Allen.

Guess we know who the squares are, huh?

But that insider stuff is not so important.

What I can’t help wondering about is what impact Stratton’s avocation will have on Spokane City Councils to come.

Yes, I can see it now …

BEFORE STRATTON – City Council meetings open with flag salute.

AFTER STRATTON – City Council meetings open with urinalysis.

BEFORE STRATTON – Thanks to urban farming, Spokane residents sell homegrown eggs and veggies outside their properties.

AFTER STRATTON – Neighborhood brownie stands pop up all over town.

BEFORE STRATTON – Clean air is top city government priority.

AFTER STRATTON – Smoke-filled back rooms return to City Hall.

BEFORE STRATTON – Spokane symbol features lilacs.

AFTER STRATTON – Spokane symbol features Bob Marley.

BEFORE STRATTON – Council meetings begin at 6.

AFTER STRATTON – Council meetings moved to 4:20.

BEFORE STRATTON – Mayor John Powers laughed out of office.

AFTER STRATTON – Powers’ rooftop City Hall garden idea getting whole new appreciation.

BEFORE STRATTON – Torchlight parade.

AFTER STRATTON – Torch-a-Phatty parade.

BEFORE STRATTON – Spokane civic and charity events proclaimed by mayor.

AFTER STRATTON – Mayoral proclamations sponsored by Zig-Zag rolling papers.

BEFORE STRATTON – Council meetings often bog down in usual rhetoric over budget issues and building proposals.

AFTER STRATTON – Loud outbursts of giggling occur whenever a councilmember says words like “dictate,” “titillate” or “coxswain.”

BEFORE STRATTON – Proposition 2 raises $60 million to refurbish Riverfront Park.

AFTER STRATTON – Council votes to take Doritos and pizza budget from general fund.

BEFORE STRATTON – Spokane police Chief Frank Straub has squad cars painted old-fashioned black and white.

AFTER STRATTON – SPD becomes first department with tie-dyed Kevlar.

BEFORE STRATTON – Sister City Nishinomiya.

AFTER STRATTON – Sister City Amsterdam.

BEFORE STRATTON – Spokane dubbed “City of Choice” by mayor.

AFTER STRATTON – Spokane named “Garden of Weeden*” by “High Times” magazine. (*Thanks to Barry Thrash for wordplay.)

BEFORE STRATTON – Callers to City Hall forced to listen to insipid music when put on hold.

AFTER STRATTON – “One toke over the line, sweet Jesus, one toke over the line. Sittin’ downtown in the Council Chambers, one toke over the line …”

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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