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Pacific residents voice concerns to Rep. Roger Freeman

Representative Roger Freeman and his wife Sonya listen to the concerns of Pacific residents during a recent community meeting. - Shawn Skager/Reporter
Representative Roger Freeman and his wife Sonya listen to the concerns of Pacific residents during a recent community meeting.
— image credit: Shawn Skager/Reporter

Pacific residents got to sit down and talk with 30th District Rep. Roger Freeman (D-Federal Way) last Saturday as part of the Community Social Gatherings.

And even if residents raised issues ranging from health and human service funding to transportation, Freeman said he believes marijuana legalization is forefront on his constituents' minds.

"I think the biggest issue is marijuana, how it's going to be regulated, how it's going to be dispensed, how it's going to impact local communities and whether the cities have a choice," Freeman said after the meeting. "They want to know whether it will come to their town. And that's a concern for me as well. (The Legislature) is still in the process of ironing all those issues out. If we're still working on it, I can understand why cities are concerned about the issue as well. For me, it's my job to really understand the legislation and report back to the cities before we pass a bill."

Pacific has an interim zoning ordinance that temporarily bans the licensing of marijuana businesses in the community. Freeman said he understands the concerns of residents.

"Most of the communities that have bans on marijuana are in south King County because we're concerned who the clientele is going to be, who the producers are going to be, and what the impact is going to be to police forces that are already low on officers. Federal Way is not up to 100-percent of the officers they should have. And Milton, Algona and Pacific have those same concerns because they're small cities with small police forces. And when you get an industry coming in like this, you have concerns about who is coming in to buy."

Freeman acknowledged the concerns of those on the other side of the issue,that is, the investors who hope to retail, produce or process marijuana.

"The people who have invested have their concerns because their money is invested and there are these bans," he said. "But they didn't realize when they invested that it was a possibility they might not get a license or have a return on their investment. They're all up in arms as well."

Afterwards, Freeman toured Pacific City Hall with Mayor Leanne Guier, who'd been at the meeting.

"The people who are in government, like the mayors, every mayor needs revenue," he said. "The reason I'm taking a tour of this building (Pacific City Hall) is that I can see there are repairs that are not in the budget. So the mayors are really asking the state for assistance. And that's why it's important to grow the economy, so we can put money back into small communities. They don't have the revenue to afford these capital improvements, and we have to answer to those concerns."

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