A drug task force in Washington state’s Snohomish County has been funded partly by cash, cars, houses and other assets seized from marijuana purveyors. The Wall Street Journal reports that with recreational pot becoming legal in the state, this funding is going up in smoke. Snohomish’s 22-officer operation, one of 19 task forces in the state, brought in $200,000 from forfeitures in marijuana cases in 2012—15 percent of its funding; the haul has exceeded $1 million in years past.
The county’s task force has already slashed its projected funding for this year by more than 15 percent, partially because of a decline in revenue from asset forfeitures in pot cases, said Commander Pat Slack. That will mean less money for overtime, training and new equipment, said Slack, a vocal opponent of legalization. With marijuana legalized for adults in Washington later this year and in Colorado as of Jan. 1, law-enforcement agencies in those states expect to lose millions in revenue gained from assets seized from growers and dealers. Those funds may be difficult to recoup. In Washington, tax money from marijuana sales won’t go to law enforcement. That means that cuts may be coming, particularly for interagency drug task forces, which don’t have the same dedicated sources of funding that city police departments do.