Tuesday, January 21, 2014
WALLA WALLA — The business plans of 20 marijuana entrepreneurs could end up pipe dreams if the City Council approves a recently proposed pot ban.
At Wednesday’s 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall, the Council will review a proposal to repeal the city’s previously approved marijuana ordinances — which established zoning codes where marijuana businesses can locate — and instead enact a moratorium to ban all production, processing and retailing within city limits.
In his report to the Council, City Attorney Tim Donaldson noted that during a 30-day application window last fall the Washington State Liquor Control Board received five applications for producers (growers), six applications for processors and nine applications for retailers, all wanting to operate in Walla Walla city limits.
But a recent opinion from the Washington State Attorney General’s Office has left cities and counties with a strong possibility that they can ban some or all commercial marijuana operations.
The opinion from Attorney General Robert Ferguson and Assistant Attorney General Jessica Fogel stated Initiative 502 possessed “no clear indication” that it was “intended to preempt local authority to regulate” marijuana business.
Donaldson noted, however, that if a business were to receive city approval before a ban, that businesses would be grandfathered in and allowed to operate regardless of any future ban.
Last month, City Council denied its first and only request so far to open a marijuana business. The request to open the business at 1491 Rose St. was denied because that section of town is not zoned for both marijuana production and processing.
Donaldson made no recommendation on whether to approved the marijuana moratorium. He did add that if Council approves it, there would be future opportunities to hear public opinion on whether to keep the ban.
Alfred Diaz can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8325.