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Klippert files emergency bill to stop West Richland pot shop

State Rep. Brad Klippert introduced an emergency bill Wednesday aimed at stopping a cannabis shop from opening next to a West Richland preschool.
State Rep. Brad Klippert introduced an emergency bill Wednesday aimed at stopping a cannabis shop from opening next to a West Richland preschool. Tri-City Herald

State Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, filed an emergency bill Wednesday that could stop a cannabis shop from opening next to a West Richland preschool.

The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Control Board approved a license for The Garden LLC, operating as Nirvana Cannabis Co., to open a retail shop in an unincorporated island of Benton County next to Kid Space Preschool and Early Learning Center, a private preschool in the city of West Richland.

The board declined West Richland’s request to revoke the license, saying the preschool didn’t trigger the state’s 1,000-foot buffer requirement because it is not registered with the Department of Early Learning.

Klippert’s bill would lift that requirement. House Bill 2238 would extend the 1,000-foot buffer protections to all places where children are, including preschools and playgrounds.

The bill would also prohibit the control board from renewing licenses for cannabis businesses that don’t meet the new rules.

It is unclear if the Legislature, wrestling with a Friday deadline to pass a budget, will take up the emergency bill. If passed and signed by the governor, it would take effect immediately.

“I would positively hope that it would be passed this session,” Klippert said. He encouraged supporters to call the legislative hotline at 800-562-6000 to encourage lawmakers to act.

Klippert, a Benton County sheriff’s feputy who works as a resource officer in Kiona-Benton City schools, is a longtime opponent of legal marijuana. Last year, he testified against Benton City’s move to authorize retail sales after Washington voters approved recreational use and sales in 2012.

Benton County is also attempting to stop the shop by considering a moratorium on additional shops and asking the board to reconsider authorizing the business.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell

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