West Richland to put off decision on pot moratorium

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 17, 2013 

West Richland may wait until next month before making a decision about temporarily banning the sale or production of marijuana within city limits.

City attorney Bronson Brown talked about a proposed resolution that would put a six-month ban on the sale, production and processing of recreational marijuana during Tuesday's city council meeting.

The council decided to continue mulling over the issue and to discuss it further at a future council meeting.

In the meantime, Brown and the city's staff will continue working on how to license retail sales of pot, including zoning, business licensing and health and safety requirements.

Washington voters approved Initiative 502 last year, making recreational use of marijuana legal, though growing, processing and selling the drug remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

That has left cities and counties with the vexing question of how to draw up zoning regulations and permits for growers, processors and sellers.

The initiative didn't address medical marijuana, which will need its own set of regulations.

Under the draft plans of the Washington State Liquor Control, which is in charge of licensing and regulating the state's fledgling marijuana industry, Brown said West Richland could have just a single marijuana retailer.

"And there could be no more than 10 retailers total in Benton County," he said.

The West Richland council will hold a public hearing to hear comments on the moratorium at 7 p.m. Oct. 15.

If the moratorium passes and the city then puts zoning and other regulations in place to regulate the sale and growing of pot within the city, the moratorium will automatically end, even if the six months are not up, Brown said.

The Washington State Liquor Control will release the final regulations governing marijuana sales Oct. 16 and they will take effect on Nov. 16.

Connell and Walla Walla County enacted similar moratoriums this week.

In Connell, the city council voted Monday to extend its moratorium prohibiting medical cannabis collective gardens in the city for another six months. The council also voted to place a six-month moratorium on selling recreational marijuana within the city until the council has a chance to implement regulations for the growing and selling of cannabis.

The moratorium will be in effect until mid-March, unless the Connell council votes to shorten or extend the time limit on growing and selling marijuana in the city.

Walla Walla County commissioners unanimously approved on Monday a one-year moratorium on growing, processing or selling marijuana in the county, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin reported.

The Union-Bulletin reported the city of Waitsburg also has put in place a moratorium and the College Place City Council has directed staff to draft an ordinance for a moratorium in that city. Columbia County will hold a public hearing on a moratorium at 2 p.m. today.

The cities of Walla Walla, Prescott and Dayton have taken no action on the issue Garfield County also has taken no action, but the sheriff, prosecuting attorney and county commissioners have been discussing the issue, the Union-Bulletin reported.

Pasco and Franklin County have adopted moratoriums, while Kennewick and Richland have discussed them.

Benton County is not considering a moratorium for unincorporated areas outside of Kennewick and Richland, the Union-Bulletin reported.

w Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service