Johnson Responds To Tedford’s Marijuana Letter

Editor, the VOICE:

A recent Letter to the Editor appears to have been directed at me since I am the known conservative on the Maple Valley City Council, which is politically non-partisan. It might have helped had D’Ann Tedford been at the council meeting to hear first hand the entire discussion on the marijuana issue, and my comments, but she lives in Black Diamond and probably got her information second or third hand. Everything she described in her letter was related to medical uses of marijuana. I agree that there are uses for medical marijuana. I know people who have benefited by its use and I also know those who have tried it and have found it unsatisfactory. However, I do not support the use of recreational marijuana. I know she has experience with drug and alcohol abuse and would assume she would agree with limited use of recreational marijuana. I was particularly concerned when I heard an interview with a young woman who was pregnant who was proud of her use of recreational marijuana and was sure there would be no harm to her unborn child. Since most mothers-to-be are very careful not to ingest anything that would or could be harmful to the fetus I was surprised at this woman’s actions. It is an established belief that marijuana is a gateway drug to other more detrimental drugs. That interview convinced me that recreational marijuana should only be available in Maple Valley in a limited number of stores. With fewer stores my hope is that use will be curtailed, at the very least discouraged. My frustration is with the state. When legalization of marijuana was approved by the citizens of Washington State the state decided how many stores each city could have. Maple Valley was ‘given’ two. We were not asked if or how many we might want; we were simply ‘given’ two. We have no idea when, if, or how many more stores we may be ‘given’ by the state in the future. The discussion centered on how we as a city council might have some control over the number of stores we have in Maple Valley and whether it is even appropriate for us to try to limit the stores. If Ms. Tedford had checked, she would have found that I supported the second marijuana store at the south end of the city. I did this because there was too much potential for litigation if we pulled the plug on the second store. I am also frustrated with King County. For years our trail systems through Maple Valley were considered part of our city and county parks system although the trail system belongs to King County who operates and maintains them. When marijuana became legal there was a set-back requirement that requires the stores to be no closer than 500 feet to parks, schools, and day care centers, so King County removed the designation of trails as parks, thus removing the 500 foot set-back requirement. I am now in my 12th year on the city council. I am honored to serve the citizens of Maple Valley and am humbled by the support I have received from our citizens. I seek to be open minded; I listen to all sides of the issues before our council; I do my own research; and I talk with our citizens to get their feedback on issues before council. I then make my decisions and cast my votes accordingly always keeping in mind the decision is not mine alone, that I am one of seven council members making the final decisions. I endeavor to make sure our citizens understand my reasoning for my positions. I am a conservative by politics and will not apologize for that fact. The community support I have received in my years on the city council validate in my mind my conservative voice is needed on the council. I refuse to be politically bullied, or bullied in general. In accordance with our first amendment rights I respect Ms. Tedford’s rights to her liberal opinions. I expect no less from her. The week of May 15 through 19, 2017 is filing time for the November election. I would recommend that Ms. Tedford file for one of the three Black Diamond positions that will be on the ballot. That way she can campaign for election and if elected she can work for her constituents for the betterment of her city, Black Diamond. She may find it is harder work than she imagined. I can tell her that service to others is very gratifying.

Linda A. Johnson

Maple Valley City Council