The Columbian / Associated Press

Vancouver to consider 3 more marijuana stores for total of 12

Marijuana is weighed for sale. (OPB files)

Vancouver could be getting more pot shops.

The city council will consider expanding the number of marijuana stores from nine to 12 at its meeting Monday.

Earlier this year, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board increased the number of marijuana stores each jurisdiction is allowed. Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt said the city should follow the state’s lead.

“I made it clear all along the voters of our community weighed in … that recreational marijuana should be legalized,” Leavitt said, adding later that he’s been consistent with his position that the city “should offer the opportunity for citizens of our community to partake in the use of recreational marijuana given that it’s legalized.”

But Councilor Jack Burkman said he would like to see the city move cautiously.

“It’s a brand new industry, it’s the wild, Wild West of the industry. … Sometimes, I believe, caution is necessary,” Burkman said, adding “We can’t go back. There isn’t a legal way to do that. I don’t want to be in a position where we can’t un-ring the bell.”

Although the council hasn’t officially voted on changing the ordinance, an earlier vote showed there was majority support for moving to 12 stores.

Councilor Alishia Topper said she’s supportive of increasing the number of marijuana stores.

There has been some confusion from some who have received a license to open a marijuana store at the state level but have been told they aren’t allowed to operate under city ordinance.

If the councilors approve the ordinance, it would take effect within 30 days, Leavitt said.

The state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board increased the number of stores after a research consultant, BOTEC Analysis Corp., recommended the number of retail stores statewide needs to increase from 334 to 556 to meet demand. The move is meant to accommodate the state’s alignment of the medical marijuana market with the existing recreational market, with the expectation that medical pot users will be turning to retail pot shops for their marijuana supply.

The city councilors are also expected to vote to prohibit retail and medical marijuana stores from advertising on billboards and to ensure medical marijuana collective growers aren’t negatively impacting neighbors with their plants.