Snoqualmie Bans Pot Shops; State Pauses North Bend Ban on Truck Town Expansion

No [Legal] Pot Sales in Snoqualmie

A couple of ‘hot button’ topics were up for a vote from North Bend and Snoqualmie’s city councils at their respective POT BANmeetings this week.

On Monday, March 14, 2016, the Snoqualmie City Council voted unanimously to ban the sale and manufacturing of legalized marijuana within the city limits.

In Februrary, after holding multiple public hearings on the topic, the city’s planning commission voted unanimously to recommend the council consider the ban.

When asked about council’s vote, Council Member Brad Toft said, “This was not a decision about use. This was a business decision for the city. Unfortunately there is no equity in the revenue allocation between the state and city when it comes to marijuana sales. Snoqualmie is a small city, and given that fact, one business can have a significant impact on our local identity.

Toft added, “To maintain that identity, the decision was made not to allow production or sales in town.”

State Hits Pause on North Bend’s Move to Ban Truck Town Expansion

Meanwhile, a few miles east, the North Bend City Council was set to vote on permanent city municipal code amendments that would ban any expansion of Truck Town or the addition of a new truck stop in the I-90 exit 34 area.

The North Bend planning commission voted last month recommending the council move ahead with a permanent ban – replacing the interim city amendments that had been blocking any expansion for the past few years. Those interim amendments were put in place in 2013 after the city determined an expansion was not in its best interest.

According to the city council agenda bill, “Truck stops provide little economic benefit to the City and continue to have significant adverse impacts to traffic, air quality and city infrastructure.”

North Bend Truck Town is currently the only truck stop remaining in King County and over the years council members have expressed frustration over not being included in larger freight planning discussions. During 2016 state legislative session, though, lawmakers appropriated $100,000 to help with the impact of trucks on North Bend streets.

Even with the planning commissions recommendation to adopt the interim amendments as permanent, the council was not able to vote on the issue at its March 15th meeting as those amendments require review by the state Department of Commerce.

The amendments were submitted to the state on January 27th – and on February 9th North Bend requested that the review be expedited, but that request was denied.

The Department of Commerce has 60 days to perform the review before the council can take final action on the permanent regulations – and the state seemingly wanted the full time allotment.

The council will revisit the planning commission’s recommendation to ban a truck town expansion at their April 5th meeting – and the interim regulations preventing the expansion are being extended while the Department of Commerce finishes its review.



Truck Town, I-90 exit 34.  Photo: Screenshot Google streetview
Truck Town, I-90 exit 34. Photo: Screenshot Google streetview


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  • Thanks to the fireworks ban and now the marijuana sales ban I will be voting against all sitting city council members in upcoming elections. I am not looking for a nanny government that feels its place is to tell people how to live their lives.

    1. Hi Jon, you most likely will need to run for city council yourself or recruit someone else to run for elected office, if you are going to vote against all of the incumbents. This is because in Snoqualmie it is common for council members to run unopposed.
      More troubling is to see if Brad Toft will exploit his personal relationship with staff and try to become the official spokesman for Snoqualmie. There are five other council members, a mayor pro-tem, a city public information office, a city chief-of-staff, and the city’s mayor he is overshadowing by attempting to be the Voice of Snoqualmie. He does not even chair a committee and has only served 78 days in office , so I don’t understand why he is the spokesman on this matter. –Maddie

  • Why the City is attacking Truck Town seems to be more of the issue. Since truck parking is not allowed in downtown North Bend — truck traffic has been limited to local delivery, site preparation of new housing and use of State Route 202. When Weyerhaeuser operated the mill one could not drive through North Bend without seeing a Weyerhaeuser log truck or other company vehicle at every corner. The city claims Truck Town traffic is over running the town, but where is the documentation? The trucks are getting off at Exit 34 and then right back onto I-90 without going through the city core. As far as large trucks on North Bend Way, I see more yellow school buses everyday than trucks. Truck Town has been a major employer for the “valley” ever since it opened. Truck Town has always been a good neighbor, citizen and tax payer. Now that it wants to purchase 12 acres to expand – that’s a bad thing and the city must stop it with an Ordinance? Why didn’t the city stop Genie from building a new plant down the street? Why isn’t the city attacking Nintendo for its semi truck traffic? Something is not right here – graft or political favors is my bet – what do you think? The city has other major problems that need to be tackled sooner than later.

  • Thank you for the fireworks ban! And while the truck stop doesn’t encumber me much, if at all, I don’t mind seeing limits being put in place regarding future development there. Weed stores? Politically I am pro weed, but not so sure I favor the way our state legislature has written the rules. Currently the weed stores seem to draw a lot of the same type crowd the corner liquor stores do. Meh, let them drive to Issaquah, I say.

    1. Remember this attitude when they come for your hobby. Perhaps someone decides grills make too much carbon and all cooking should be indoors. Maybe a flower attracts too many bees and your neighbor is allergic so you can’t plant it. Maybe it’s washing your car in your driveway that is determined to be a nuisance, or woodworking in your garage (some of our neighbors do this and sometimes after our children have gone to be). It’s a slippery slope once you start telling other people which of their preferred activities are and aren’t acceptable.

    2. “Meh, let them drive to Issaquah, I say.”
      Along with the legal jobs and sales tax revenue. Oh wait, maybe they won’t be driving to Issaquah and will continue to support one of the city’s local black market dealers.

  • I did a fair amount of homework before casting my vote on the ban. More than any other issue so far during my short time on the Council. My own initial inclination at the start was to vote against it. A few facts:

    The Washington Liquor and Cannabis Control Board has jurisdiction over the licenses issued. By their design, a limited number were made available in King County. Currently all licenses are spoken for, and there were no licenses requested for Snoqualmie. At some point in the future, the LCCB may make more licenses available, but there are none available for the foreseeable future.

    Because marijuana is illegal at the federal level, federally chartered financial institutions do not accept deposits from pot businesses. And if a commercial building has a loan on it from one of these institutions, their loan paperwork specifies that the building cannot be used for drug sales. Not all buildings have loans from banks, some have private money loans or loans with independent lenders. In those instances the lender may allow the use of the building for businesses related to drugs.

    The city council’s vote (the Mayor can offer his opinion, but does not vote on legislation) to ban is on production, processing and retail sales. It is not a ban on use. Snoqualmie approved initiative I 502 legalizing recreational marijuana use at a rate of 58%.

    The idea that marijuana businesses generate a great deal of tax revenue is true, but virtually none of that revenue is shared with local cities. In 2014 $70MM in tax revenue flowed into state coffers from marijuana. Sales are taxed as follows: 37% excise tax plus whatever the local sales tax is—in the neighborhood of 8-9%. So about 45-47% in taxes are paid by the consumer when they buy retail marijuana. 2.1% of that total comes back to the city. An appalling level of inequity, in my opinion. The remainder of that money is swept into the state’s general fund.

    In 2014, they Washington State Attorney General stated in his own legal opinion that cities had the jurisdiction to ban business activities related to marijuana. His opinion is important because it is based on a long-standing principal that cities, depending on size, demographic and other considerations can place certain limits on business activities. One example is that adult entertainment is legal in Washington, but can you imagine one in Issaquah, Bellevue or Snoqualmie?

    I spoke to two businessmen who currently run retail stores elsewhere. They stated that they would have reservations about opening a store here. One said they flat out would not. The reason was they believed it did not fit the community character and that their businesses would face significant backlash.

    My rationale for my vote to ban (and I cannot speak for other council-members) is that the state is perhaps become as greedy as the drug cartels in sharing the revenue from marijuana sales. And because Snoqualmie is such a small town, a marijuana store would not fit the community character.

    People of legal age can still use it and they only need go as far as Preston or Issaquah to purchase it. I don’t see this as a hardship. I have to drive to Trader Joe’s in Issaquah to buy my favorite brand of ice cream and do not view that as oppressive.

    With regard to black market sales, those will continue regardless of how ubiquitous marijuana stores are. There are citizens who will buy retail because they want to be above board in their purchasing and of pot. They view the extra cost of the regulations and taxes as a small price to pay to be a good citizen. But there will also be those who want pot at the lowest cost. Marijuana retailers cannot compete on cost with black market dealers.

    1. “I spoke to two businessmen who currently run retail stores elsewhere. They stated that they would have reservations about opening a store here. One said they flat out would not. The reason was they believed it did not fit the community character and that their businesses would face significant backlash.”

      If there are no licenses available and businessmen feel market pressure would already keep them out of Snoqualmie, what is the purpose of a ban?

      1. Jon, the idea that the LCCB licensing situation and combined with the perceived cultural barriers by marijuana business owners constitutes a de facto ban is somewhat compelling. And the question is does the council even need to act? I mentioned my rationale for my vote, that there is no financial benefit and that marijuana, like some other businesses do not fit the character of our town. I also don’t believe that city leadership should allow itself to be caught flat-footed. The LCCB licensing situation could change, making more licenses available. And I only talked to two business owners, they are only one reference point. There are inevitably others that may feel differently than them. It would be unwise and unfair to wait until a situation arose that would require the city to react.

        One other observation to offer. People assume that one is either pro or against marijuana–and that those personal views hold as monolithic across the range of issues that marijuana legalization impacts. I do not subscribe to that view, and found in talking to business people and citizens that most have dynamic views on marijuana issues. They may not be users themselves, but they don’t see the need for it to be illegal. They may think it should be legal to use, but want certain zoning on store locations. Marijuana stores are not being singled out for restriction in Snoqualmie, there are other businesses that will never have a location here. Wal Mart, a car dealership, etc are businesses that also are not viewed as fitting the local character.

        1. On one side, this all sounds so logical. On the other hand, what may seem counterintuitive is that prohibition doesn’t help reduce drug addiction. Instead, it makes a valuable black market, which brings in associated crime.

          I was hoping that marijuana legalization would come with a more understanding climate. Instead we have a “not in my backyard” policy which continues to stigmatize marijuana consumption as something that we might allow, but we seem to not want to publicly acknowledge. This seems rather hypocritical, especially in a city that voted 58% in favor of legalization.

          Walmart and car dealerships are a bit of a red herring. They require certain markets and economies of scale that make them rather impractical in our town.

          There is no logical reason to treat marijuana any differently than alcohol. This compartmentalization and brushing it off to other cities just continues the myth and perception that it is a dangerous thing that we should pretend doesn’t exist and if we do choose to use it, do so secretly, behind closed doors.

          1. Jon, without a federal policy change on marijuana there are some significant barriers to it being treated the same as alcohol. You might remember that not long ago alcohol was sold in liquor stores because the state controlled the retail. Today it is sold in the grocery store because of the will of the voter. As long as marijuana is against federal law the two cannot practically be treated as the same. Reason would have it, based on the history here in Washington, that marijuana should be sold alongside alcohol or tobacco in the grocery store. But as I mentioned in an earlier response, the federal law creates problems for national chain grocers and other stores. So Washington’s marijuana industry will always have a makeshift aspect to it until federal law changes.

            On your red herring comment, North Bend has a car dealer, a town smaller than Snoqualmie. My point is that those businesses would not be allowed here because we don’t want them, so the idea that marijuana is being singled out is not true.

            This is my final post on this. I value the exchange with all of our citizens, and respect your opinions. And because of that I give you the last word.

            1. Brad, thank’s for the exchange. I’m fully aware of the differing legal status on the federal and state levels. I know there will need to be a lot more acceptance (and change in law) before we see Safeway selling marijuana. My major objection here is a step backwards in drug policy. A step away from a healthier society.

              If this ban had been about something I don’t care at all about, say Dance Studios, I wouldn’t have bothered to speak up. However, there are serious, failed policies in this country that this ban has continued to toe the line on. This needs to stop.

              Here’s what’s happened in Portugal with drug decriminalization. ODs dropped, HIV dropped.
              A wiki page on similar efforts in other countries:

              Additionally, our war on drugs has had disastrous effects for Mexico with the huge amounts of money the black market provides the drug cartels.

              Legalization takes the profits away from the cartels, when the profits go, so does the incentive for related crimes.

              Let’s not forget the huge prison populations in the US. Many of these are for profit prisons run by private corporations. They have a vested interest in the status quo which sends millions to year on non-violent drug offenses. This also destroys families and for most is far more damaging than casual drug use. It also puts a huge economic burden on the rest of the population.

              On a side note, I really don’t think it’s the place of the city council to decide which businesses should or shouldn’t be allowed to open within the city. People vote for businesses daily, with dollars. When governments step up to ban items, businesses, there are those heavily invested who will fight hard and loud for the bans. They have moral or personal objections that fuel their drive. Others who aren’t opposed or maybe are casually supportive, don’t have the time or energy to invest in fighting the ban. So, instead of the overall populace getting the things or businesses that interest them, you have a few invested planners and you have the noisy minority making policy and creating distortions. These distortions inevitably lead to unintended consequences.

  • Jon, it seems Brad Toft is not validating what you have to say while at the same time attempting to eloquently tell you how YOU ARE WRONG and most importantly how HE IS RIGHT. It is interesting you bring up how the marijuana initiative passed in Snoqualmie by 58%. In contrast when Brad Toft ran for the state legislature and attempted a coupe within the Republican Party a few years ago; he lost every single precinct in Snoqualmie (even his own).

    I am troubled how Brad Toft is bypassing the city council committee chair who initiated the marijuana ban, the mayor pro-tem, city staff including the designated Public Information Officer, and the mayor by self-appointing himself as the Voice of Snoqualmie when the vast majority of the people who voted in his last contested election, voted for his opponent.

  • Been living in nb for almost 40yrs. I drive on nb way everyday and rarely see 18 wheelers. Last few years there’s been over 2000 new houses built, which means more vehicles on the roads. The city would rather fix roads with Cole patch in the rain instead of doing it the right way and cutting that piece out. My father was right, this town is becoming like issaquah and issaquah is turning into bellevue. They would rather see rich people live here so they can charge more in taxes. Yet they’re so ignorant to look past the fact of how much revenue comes in with marijuana sales. Soon enough everyone will move to eastern wa to get away from all the political bs in nb.

  • Living Snoqualmie