Since the dawn of the pot revolution in Washington state, Seattle has had no problem upholding the reputation of a pro-pot, utopian free land. In a city with over 200 medical marijuana dispensaries, an annual Hempfest, and a police department that reacts to legalization by handing out Doritos and advice about how to smoke pot legally, those who oppose weed have become the minority. So when groups challenge the progression of I-502 in a place where marijuana culture is so mainstream, it takes everyone by surprise.
This is precisely what happened on the corner of 23rd and Union when 150 members of the Mount Calvary Christian Center spent their Sunday afternoon shouting “shut it down!” in response to Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop, Seattle’s second legal pot shop, emerging just a few feet away from the church’s back wall.
They have a point.
Washington state’s marijuana law prevents pot shops from existing within 1,000 feet of playgrounds, elementary or secondary schools, recreation centers, public parks, arcades, libraries, and transit centers. I’m not surprised that the church finds it disconcerting that the law excludes churches.
While many are quick to criticize Mount Calvary’s opposition to the pot shop, it’s important to be mindful about their position in the issue. As a primarily black church, members at the Christian center have put great efforts into moving away from the drug- and gang-related crime that has surrounded the area. It is a struggle for some to see a pot shop open in a place where black people have been the subjects of racially-biased policing. “Many of us were born and raised here and know people who went to jail for selling pot. To see the legal sales being protected here just feels hypocritical,” said church member and lifelong Central District resident Patricia Rená Barnes.
While Seattle prides itself on being one of the most progressive cities in the country, we need to consider all demographics affected through these efforts.
Devon Simpson, Designer