Kennewick residents can offer their opinions tonight on whether the city should ban marijuana-related businesses within city boundaries.
The Kennewick planning commission is holding a 7 p.m. public hearing on the matter at City Hall.
A majority of Kennewick's council is prepared to permanently ban the businesses. A temporary ban already is in place preventing any businesses from opening, even if the state Liquor Control Board approves licenses.
Pasco already has permanently banned pot-related businesses. Richland and West Richland are considering doing so.
And Prosser -- which has the Tri-City area's lone legal pot shop -- imposed a temporary ban on any new pot businesses last week.
Kennewick has been approved for up to four pot retailers by the state, but none have received a state license to operate.
Kennewick received notices for three proposed pot businesses within city boundaries so far this year. Evelyn Lusignan, the city's customer service manager, said the city provided information about the current temporary ban on marijuana-related businesses.
A proposed ordinance would amend the city's zoning code to ban pot-related businesses as allowed under Initiative 502, said Lisa Beaton, Kennewick's city attorney. It also would repeal the city's current temporary ban, which expires Oct. 15.
City officials have expressed unease about what the public safety ramifications of pot-related businesses will be. The businesses are cash-based. The city expects to see additional work with legal adult recreational consumption of marijuana, Beaton said.
For example, with liquor, the city deals with driving under the influence, minors in possession and other crimes associated with people who are intoxicated, she said.
The state has shared revenue from liquor sales with the cities to help defray those additional costs. However, the amount has been reduced, and is likely to go away completely with the state's budget issues and the mandate for the state to fully fund basic education, Beaton said.
The state's new legal recreational pot laws do not provide for any revenue sharing with local governments.
The Kennewick City Council will consider the ban Sept. 2. That meeting likely will include another public hearing.
State officials say they will issue licenses to businesses even if a temporary or permanent ban is in place. However, to open, a business must be allowed under local regulations.
So far, processor licenses have been issued to four businesses in Benton County and one in Pasco. Grower licenses have been issued to six growers in Benton County and one in Pasco. The Benton County locations have Prosser and Benton City addresses.
Botany Unlimited Design & Supply was issued a license for a processor and a grower at 2505 N. Commercial Ave., Unit C/D, in Pasco.
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