The Columbian / Associated Press

Camas OKs ban of retail recreational pot stores

A flower nearly ready for harvest sits atop a mature marijuana plant at the Pioneer Production and Processing marijuana growing facility in Arlington. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Camas cannabis connoisseurs will have to import their indulgences after the Camas City Council voted Monday night to ban retail recreational marijuana stores in city limits.

“We had a 5-2 vote that basically said that’s not a business that’s allowed to happen in Camas,” said Mayor Scott Higgins. “At the end of the day, it was such a divided issue that half the people loved it and half the people hate it.”

There has been a moratorium on retail pot stores since October 2014 that was set to end next month. Growing and processing businesses already had been banned.

Higgins estimated that more than 40 people testified Monday, and two-thirds of those who did were in favor of the ban.

“Everyone seemed to understand it was not a question of marijuana itself but a reflection of their community values,” Higgins said.

The planning commission had voted 3-2 — with two members absent — to recommend allowing pot stores in two commercial zones.

“Going in last night, I knew it was close,” Higgins said. “I thought it would pass 4-3 or fail 4-3.”

City Councilors Melissa Smith and Shannon Turk voted against the ban.

The city council originally passed the moratorium in part to see how the Legislature would address perceived flaws in marijuana regulations.

Just one store would have been allowed in Camas city limits under current Liquor and Cannabis Board rules.

“At the end of the day, the attorney general gave us the ability to choose the kind of businesses we allow in the city. I feel like we can do better (than marijuana),” Higgins said. “I was pleased with the decision. However, I could have been at peace if it had gone the other way.”

Vancouver and Battle Ground are the only cities in the county to allow recreational pot stores.