The Columbian / Associated Press

Woodland won't welcome pot — yet

Anyone hoping to open a recreational marijuana business in Woodland this winter will have to hold their horses a little longer.

The Woodland City Council looked poised to finally open its doors to pot growing and processing Monday night. But the absence of one councilor left the rest in a stalemate, pushing back any conclusion on the issue at least two more weeks.

After the council voted 5-1 in December to allow growing and processing — but not retail sales — Mayor Grover Laseke slammed on the brakes, pointing to a line in the city’s code that bars them from issuing business licenses for anything violating federal law. Laseke said the legal contradiction left him with no choice but to reject a viable application for a Tier 1 growing and processing business in Woodland.

The council planned to settle the situation Monday night with an ordinance to modify its business license regulations, carving out an exception for pot growers and processors. However, with Councilor Susan Humbyrd on vacation in Mexico, the vote broke down into a 3-3 deadlock.

Councilors Benjamin Fredricks, Jennifer Heffernan and Marilee McCall voted against the ordinance, while Al Swindell, Marshall Allen and Scott Perry took the opposite stance. Heffernan’s vote came as a course reversal; she supported the council’s decision last year to allow growing and processing in a small industrial area west of Woodland’s railroad tracks.

The council will take its next shot at ironing out the issue on April 6, and Laseke is confident the vote won’t end in another tie.

“I don’t see any reason why it won’t get passed this time,” he said. “Councilmember Humbyrd will be there, and she voted for it last time.”

The decision would be welcome news for Gregory Bowyer, a Ridgefield resident who submitted that application for a Tier 1 growing and processing business under the trade name New Horizon Holdings. Laseke told Bowyer his application meets requirements for zoning and location, and he would still be able to open the business as long as the council fixes the law.

Also on Monday, the council showed unanimous support for an ordinance that would permanently ban collective gardens for medical pot. The latest collective garden moratorium has been in effect in Woodland since December.

The proposal still needs to face a final vote before going into effect, but Laseke said he sees no reason it would get held up, like the decision on recreational marijuana.

Source: The Columbian / Associated Press