Morning Fizz

Seattle Police Make Several Pot Delivery Arrests in Recent Buy Bust Operation

Pot delivery, rural socialism, and single-family zoning.

By Josh Feit April 21, 2016

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 1. Here’s a little 4/20 news for you: Police reports obtained by PubliCola show that the SPD is back in the business of arresting people for pot. However, this war on drugs has pro-pot sympathies, the city says.

It’s legal to buy an ounce of pot in Washington state, obviously, and there are currently 29 licensed stores across the city and about 60 medical shops left out of the 120 that existed last year. Most of those supposed medical shops will be closed down by July 1 when the recreational and medical industries combine—while some of those medical shops will win recreational licenses and transition into the new market. (The recreational shops will get licenses and training to serve medical patients as well, though it’s not clear how practical or profitable that will be for the new stores.)

However, pot delivery is not legal. And earlier this month, in order to fight an illegal market that the city (and the legal pot shop owners) say is cutting into the legit market, the Seattle Police Department conducted an evening of buy busts, operating a sting operation out of a motel room on N. Northgate Way. On April 5, eight “runners”—seven men and one woman (all white)—were arrested after undercover SPD officers called a series of delivery services, such as Mr. Green Jeans and Lady Bud, that advertise openly, and bought anywhere from $100 to $260 worth of pot when the delivery person showed up. The police reports note that the arrests were made without incident. The cases have been handed over to the King County prosecutor. (One delivery person was also carrying nine Oxycontin pills, one report notes.)

Sensitive to the stigma of the failed and racist “war on drugs,” the city says the intent is not to bust people for smoking pot, but to send a message to the owners, operators, and suppliers of the delivery services that delivery will not be tolerated as the city tries to foster the legal pot shop market.

The city lobbied for state legislation in Olympia earlier this year that would have allowed the legal market to set up a pilot delivery service, but the legislation didn’t go through. The legal industry itself objected to the pilot legislation because it only allowed five delivery licenses, which, the legal businesses argued, would have unfairly picked winners and losers. The city says they will try again next year.

2. State senator Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne, Ballard) has done it again. Every year he asks the state office of financial management to crunch the numbers on how much money each county across the state puts into the state coffers in taxes and how much money in state services they get back, coming up with a list of net contributors and net receivers.

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The findings, per usual: King County is dead last when it comes to the ratio of money it gets back from the state versus how much it puts in, while rural counties such as Franklin and Okanogan counties top the list for putting the least in and getting the most back. Carlyle, who has been known to criticize the irony of antitax Republican counties getting more out of the system than protax, liberal counties as “rural socialism,” noted on twitter: “Issue isn't guilt. It's philosophical inconsistency of some who publicly oppose state govt but privately push for $.”

3. And Sightline has also done it again: publishing a paper making the case against Seattle’s rigid single family zoning rules that zone a disproportionate 54 to 65 percent of the city as single family enclaves; the number changes according to whether or not you count open space. For a comparison, Portland only zones three percent of its neighborhoods that way.

Sightline’s beef with SFZ, which they label “exclusionary zoning,” revisits last year’s HALA report claim that Seattle’s single family zoning rules contributed to high housing costs and housing inequity.

Their conclusion, based on an exhaustive survey of academic studies, is that exclusive single family zoning ratchets up housing costs by limiting the supply of developable land.  

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