Kennewick extends pot moratorium

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldDecember 17, 2013 

Kennewick may take a full year to mull how to handle pot-related businesses within city limits.

The Kennewick City Council unanimously extended the city's moratorium on pot retail, processing and growing locations on Tuesday.

Kennewick Mayor Steve Young said it's important for Kennewick to implement Initiative 502 correctly. It's been a challenging issue for both staff and council.

"This is going to take some time," he said.

The city attorney's office recommended extending the city's six-month moratorium to a full year, through Oct. 15, 2014, and adopting a work plan on how the city will go about determining city policy for recreational marijuana.

The city's work plan includes having city departments consider permitting, licensing, taxation, code enforcement, crime prevention, public safety and zoning, according to city documents.

City staff also will develop draft alternatives for regulating the production, processing and sale of recreational pot in city limits, according to city documents. Workshops and at least one public hearing will be held by the city planning commission to determine what to recommend to city council.

City officials also plan to consider coordinating efforts with Benton and Franklin counties, Pasco, Richland and West Richland.

Corey Osborn, Kennewick's human resources manager, said cities continue to wait for more information from the state Legislature and for an opinion from the state Attorney General's Office.

The Attorney General's Office has been asked whether cities are allowed to outright ban pot-related businesses, or whether they can adopt requirements that make such businesses impractical,

Osborn said if the situation changes or more information is received, the city council can choose to cancel the moratorium early after holding a public hearing.

Licenses for pot-related businesses may be issued by the state as soon as March, with legal sales beginning as early as June.

The liquor control board plans to allow up to four stores each in Kennewick and Pasco, three in Richland, one in West Richland, two in Benton County outside the three larger cities and one in Franklin County outside Pasco. Applications for marijuana producing and processing businesses do not have those restrictions.

Pasco already has a 12-month moratorium. Richland has a six-month moratorium on pot-related businesses.

Benton County is taking a different route and isn't enacting a moratorium.

On Tuesday morning, county commissioners approved a resolution that outlines the different zones where production, processing and retail sales will be allowed.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512;

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