Washougal bans pot businesses for two years
Great story today by Columbian Reporter Justin Runquist about what’s going on in Washougal.
Looks like their City Council extended its ban on marijuana businesses and collective gardens for another two years.
A few lawsuits have cropped up across the state that might make bans a moot point, but we’ll have to wait and see how they turn out.
Here’s Justin’s story:
By Justin Runquist
Columbian small cities reporter
Those looking to open a pot shop in Washougal faced some bad news Monday night when the City Council placed a two-year ban on marijuana businesses and collective gardens.
The city already had a shorter moratorium on recreational marijuana operations in place. But supporters of the two-year ban said the extension will allow the city to wait for the Legislature to settle some unresolved regulatory issues with both recreational and medical marijuana.
Councilor Michelle Wagner was absent from the meeting and Councilor Brent Boger cast the sole vote against the ban. Boger originally supported the new ordinance until the other councilors voted to change the ban’s sunset date from the end of 2015 to Sept. 1, 2016.
Boger said the 2015 expiration date would give the city enough time to resolve any concerns about marijuana. But he also took issue with the council’s approach to banning marijuana growth, processing and sales through land-use laws.
“Most of the motivation is just a general opposition to marijuana, and that’s not proper,” he said. “It’s not proper to deal with that in the zoning code.”
Councilor Paul Greenlee made a point of noting that the ordinance doesn’t ban consumption or possession of marijuana within city limits. It merely bars recreational marijuana businesses and collective medical marijuana gardens, a subject of widespread legal confusion over the past few years.
The Legislature approved collective gardens in 2011 as a legal means for producing medical marijuana. Soon afterward, however, then-Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed a portion of the bill that would have created a registry for marijuana growers and users, prompting debate among local governments in Washington about whether collective gardens are legal.
Greenlee said he anticipates state lawmakers will need to take up a number of issues with recreational marijuana in the next legislative session. Among those, he mentioned a need for stricter regulations on the potency of the drug and a better system of sharing marijuana tax revenue with local governments.
Before taking a vote, the councilors also discussed the fact that the majority of Washougal voters opposed Initiative 502 in 2012. Boger suggested that it would be useful to know whether the voters have changed their minds on legal recreational marijuana since.
“I know there’s been some talk about this, I-502, failing in Washougal,” he said. “Well, it did, but I think the margin was 28 votes, and I wonder whether the opinions of the residents have changed on that and I’m very interested in what their opinions are.”