Franklin County commissioners finally passed a permanent ban Wednesday on recreational marijuana businesses, after years of six-month moratoriums.
The 2-1 vote adds the sale, growing and processing of marijuana to the list of prohibited land uses in the unincorporated county. Commissioners outlawed collective gardens for medical marijuana in 2013.
Commissioners Brad Peck and Rick Miller voted for the ban, while Commissioner Bob Koch voted against it.
“We are a right-to-farm county,” Koch said. “I could agree with prohibiting the retail sale, but I’m not too strong with prohibiting the growing and processing of it.”
The county’s planning commission recommended the ban at its Oct. 6 meeting. Past commission meetings where temporary bans were considered drew marijuana advocates and farmers interested in growing it, with some attendees cursing the commissioners’ decisions. But no one spoke at the planning commission hearing and only one member of the public addressed commissioners Wednesday.
“I support that strongly,” Michelle Andres said of the ban. “It is something that affects the judgment in human beings.”
Franklin commissioners passed five temporary bans on marijuana businesses since Washington voters legalized recreational pot in 2012, saying they wanted to see if the state Legislature would change the law to allow local governments to share in taxes collected. But they determined that changes the state approved earlier this year were not enough, and in August asked staff to start drafting an ordinance to create a permanent ban.
Commissioners pointed to 66 percent of unincorporated Franklin County residents voting against marijuana legalization in 2012, despite it passing statewide. Pasco, Kennewick, Richland and West Richland city councils already approved marijuana business bans. Two stores in the Prosser area are the only recreational marijuana retailers in Benton or Franklin counties.