The King County, Washington City Council is considering shifting cannabis-derived funds from the county Sheriff’s Office and instead using the $4.6 million for community programs and a program to help individuals vacate cannabis-related convictions and settle court fees, fines, and restitution, Marijuana Moment reports.
Under King County Executive Dow Constantine’s (D) plan, $2.8 million of the county’s cannabis-derived funds would be earmarked for “a program to help individuals vacate convictions of marijuana-related offenses that are no longer illegal, and settle unpaid court fines, fees, and restitution that could lead to incarceration,” according to the report. The remaining $1.8 million would be used for community programs aimed at employment and youth cannabis prevention.
“It is a fact that Black communities have suffered and continue to be disproportionately harmed by our nation’s ‘war on drugs,’ and this begins to undo some of that harm.” – Constantine via Marijuana Moment
The county’s budget includes a section titled “Becoming an Anti-Racist County” and includes reforms “to shift the County’s focus from a system of criminal justice to one of racial and social justice.”
In a statement, Republican King County Council member Reagan Dunn said the proposal “neglects what is possibly the most important and basic job of government: to provide for the safety of our residents who rely on law enforcement during times of crisis.”
“By cutting law enforcement funding by $6.2 million, County leadership would completely eliminate key services such as the [King County Special Operations] gang unit, while simultaneously emptying an entire floor of the jail onto the streets of King County,” he said. “This is a dangerous approach to public safety and all county residents should be very concerned.”
The county’s next budget meeting is September 30. The budget enactment process is expected to run into next month.