Bill establishing 'Cannabis Safety Task Force' heads to King County Council

King County’s safety committee passed legislation Tuesday bringing a Cannabis Safety Task Force closer to fruition.

County Council member Reagan Dunn’s bill seeks to establish a ‘cannabis business security task force’ after a rash of armed robberies and shootings at Western Washington pot shops. Since marijuana is not legal at the federal level, limited banking options have forced retailers to use a cash-only model, making them obvious targets for robberies.

"Elected leaders need to take swift action now to protect our communities and businesses by preventing the targeting of the cannabis industry by criminals. I could not be more pleased that my colleagues passed this important legislation today," Dunn said. "With this, we are one step closer to reducing the lawlessness and violence targeted toward these establishments and sending a clear message to the criminals responsible that these brazen robberies will not be tolerated."

Local officials are already pushing Congress to provide safer ways for pot shops to handle money and business.

The cannabis task force bill was brought to the King County Council in early April, and referred to the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services (LJHHS) Committee, where it passed Tuesday.

The task force would comprise of the King County Sheriff’s Office, prosecutor’s office, cannabis industry professionals, business owners and community members. Dunn’s office says they would work to identify resources for law enforcement, share data and coordinate emphasis patrols.

Violent robberies at pot shops fuel new efforts for federal marijuana banking reform

The amount of armed robberies at pot shops in the region is surging, and so is the fear among the people trying to work and protect them—especially after a deadly robbery in Tacoma.

"We applaud today’s vote in our shared work with the King County Council to protect the safety of legal cannabis workers and the communities where regulated cannabis businesses operate," said Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association. "Our members will continue to partner with King County officials as part of this coordinated response for addressing the recent spike in armed robberies targeting licensed cannabis businesses."

The legislation also requests an analysis of the $4.6 million in marijuana tax revenue stripped from the sheriff’s office in 2021, and how it is being put to use in the county.

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The King County Council will consider a vote on the bill at their May 17 meeting.