Interview with Park Commissioner Erik Hanberg

Park Commissioner Erik Hanberg

Our team here at Mary Mart takes our community involvement seriously. So while we navigate new territory, we want to make sure we keep our customers informed when it comes to cannabis usage laws in Washington state. Everyone knows Pierce County has no shortage of wonderful parks. But can we partake in cannabis while enjoying what the county has to offer? We brought in Park Commissioner Erik Hanberg for an interview to discuss the topic of cannabis in parks.

Erik Hanberg was born and raised in Tacoma. He’s a graduate of Bellarmine Prep and has been a park commissioner for the past eight years, though he has always been heavily involved in the community. He was appointed, among other park commissioners, in 2010, and again in 2017. The park commissioner duties include helping with voting on spending and lending themselves to be directors for the parks.


Currently, the i502 laws restrict smoking in public areas, meaning we cannot consume cannabis in any local parks. In fact, smoking of any kind is restricted in public parks, primarily to reduce fire hazard and littering. These laws make sense to Hanberg as he believes the LCB should hold cannabis to the same standards as alcohol and tobacco. Public park enforcement, however, falls on the police force rather than park organizations.

When asked if he thought cannabis usage laws in parks might relax, Park Commissioner Erik Hanberg stated he believes it will be a while, given the pre-existing laws concerning alcohol use and smoking in public. When that day comes, however, he indicated it might be difficult to enforce measurable parameters for safe consumption practices when it comes to edibles. Smoking, on the other hand, would be the easiest to track and enforce.

Marijuana Laws in The US

So far, Hanberg says there have not been any out-of-the-ordinary problems when it comes to illegal cannabis use in parks. Park rangers treat cannabis joints the same way they treat cigarettes. The biggest potential issue with smoking cigarettes or joints at the park is the fire hazard it presents, especially at Point Defiance Park, which is the only old growth forest outside of the Olympic.

So while we may want to enjoy a nice view or walk on a forest trail with a joint, we should stop and think about the possible implications. In order to preserve the abundance of natural beauty we’re surrounded by, it may be best to hold off on cannabis usage in parks until consumption parameters are put in place to ensure the safety of both the consumer and their natural surroundings.

When he’s not acting as Park Commissioner, Erik Hanberg and his wife, Mary Holste, run a marketing and design company specializing in nonprofits called Side x Side Creative. He received his BA in English from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and has authored more than 10 books, including three books written for small nonprofits and several novels. His dedication to Metro Parks is such that in 2005, he visited every single Metro Parks facility. He, his wife, and their two children can regularly be found playing at one of Pierce County’s great parks.

Curious about other i502 law updates? Check out our latest post covering the topic of infused candy and why we may no longer carry them in 2019. In the meantime, head over to our deals page where you can always find something sweet!

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  • Corinne
    What about using a vaporizer if I am registered with the state as a medical patient with neurological disorders? I cannot sometimes walk without it (Parkinsonian-type symptoms and my legs won't respond).
    • Mary Mart
      Great question! We are not sure of the legalities there. I would ask your physician/ doctor.

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