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State makes millions from marijuana sales tax; Yakima not getting much of it back

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YAKIMA, Wash.- This year alone, Washington state is getting around $1.5 million a day, or $550 million a year, from taxes on marijuana sales.

However, the cities and counties that are sending the money to the state are only going to get back around $15 million.

Yakima is getting back a lot less than that, and all of it is going to the police department.

“Our projected amount this year is around $131,000. That's enough to cover salary benefits and a vehicle for one police officer,” City Manager Cliff Moore.

City leaders and local marijuana shop owners met Monday to discuss issues they're facing in the industry.

Liz Hallock owns Sweet Relief in Yakima and said the taxes her shop collects in just two weeks, equals what the city gets for the entire year.

“I'm not seeing the hard work, that we as business put into our business, come back to the community that's shopping there,” Sweet Relief Owner Liz Hallock said.

Her shop is one of five within Yakima city limits and she said the average store raises around $100,000 a month in tax revenue.

Hallock said she's disappointed that she's not seeing more of that money help solve the opioid crisis the valley is dealing with.

“More money was supposed to go to drug abuse prevention, treatment service and the funds that have gone to (Department of Health) and (Department of Social and Health Services) has been drastically cut down. A lot of the money is going in the general fund and that's not what we voted for,” she said.

Another topic that was brought up was prevention among youth.

People with the Educational Service District 105 said studies show more kids don't think weed is dangerous anymore since it was legalized.

Which could increase use among teenagers and cause long term damage.

“Brain science is telling us that our brains aren't fully developed until about age 25. So, we want to keep that brain and that youth as healthy as possible for as long as possible,” Anna Marie Dufault with the ESD 105.

City manager Cliff Moore said he hopes to work with state lawmakers to increase the share of tax money Yakima gets from marijuana sales.

He said the extra funds would be able to go into parks and youth programs across the city.

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