To Sell or not to Sell: City Council Set to Vote on Permanently Banning Pot Sales, Production

It’s been over three years since I-502 legalized the possession of specified amounts of marijuana and legalized its private recreational use in Washington State, but the statewide initiative that comfortably passed with a nearly 56% approval rate did not prohibit cities from banning marijuana sales within their municipalities.

And it seems many Washington cities prefer not to get on board as far as sales go – even cities in which the initiative potcomfortably passed. Snoqualmie, for instance, is considering joining the ranks of other cities banning legalized pot sales and production – even with I-502 approved by Snoqualmie voters at 57%.

Public Hearings Show Support for Ban

After holding a public hearing in December 2015 and asking local residents their thoughts on pot sales and manufacturing in Snoqualmie, Planning Commission Chair Steve Smith said those in attendance overwhelmingly supported prohibiting marijuana sales and production in the city.

So at the February 16th City of Snoqualmie Planning Commission meeting, members unanimously voted to recommend that the city council adopt an ordinance banning the sale, manufacturing and processing of marijuana within the City of Snoqualmie.

Planning Chair Smith said prior to the Commission’s vote, another public hearing about the ordinance was held where not one person came out to speak in support of legalized pot sales in Snoqualmie – a response similar to the previous December hearing where about three dozen residents spoke out in favor of a ban.

Moratorium Gives Time for Final Retail Marijuana Sales Decision

Currently the City of Snoqualmie has a moratorium on marijuana sales and production in place while it explored what to do [permanently] about legal pot sales. That moratorium is set to expire on March 26, 2016.

At the February 22nd city council meeting, and per the Planning Commission’s recommendation, legislation banning the production and retail sales of [legalized] marijuana in Snoqualmie was introduced for the council’s consideration and action. While no action was taken at Monday’s meeting, the ordinance is scheduled for a full council vote at the March 14th meeting.

If the new ordinance is adopted by the council, it would repeal the moratorium and permanently ban marijuana production, processing and sales in Snoqualmie.

Where Could Pot Businesses Locate if Moratorium Expires?

If the moratorium runs out without a ban in place, Councilmember Brad Toft said three spots were identified as possible retail areas that could meet the law’s guidelines for where marijuana retail sales can do business (i.e. 1,000 feet away from schools, parks, etc.)  Those spots are the Snoqualmie Ridge business park, downtown Snoqualmie and the Honey Farm area on 384th.

It should also be noted the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board limits the number of retail marijuana stores at 556 – and according to Councilmember Toft,  there are no remaining licenses available in King County, as the county has reached its allotment.

The City Council Meeting happens on March 14, 2016 at City Hall, 38624 SE River Street, at 7PM.

Comments

  1. Banning the sale of marijuana within the city limits makes no sense. It reminds me of when I lived in Texas and there were “dry counties”. Anyone that wanted alcohol had it when and where they wanted it. The thing this most effectively does is prevent Snoqualmie from benefiting from tax revenues from the sales (tax receipts in Colorado have significantly exceeded expectations). Marijuana is no more dangerous that alcohol and arguably safer in many ways. There is no logical reason to play the “Not In My Backyard” card on this decision.

  2. Thanks to Living Snoqualmie for publishing this overview on what the city is considering regarding retail marijuana sales. As a council member I am interested in hearing feedback from the community. Practically speaking, because of the licensing situation with the Liquor and Cannabis Board, there will be no retail sales of marijuana in Snoqualmie in the foreseeable future no matter what the Council does. Do you view a ban on retail sales as necessary, why or why not?

    • I already posted mine as a separate comment, but I’ll reply here as well as there is liable to be more conversation on this thread. There’s a few reasons.
      1. It’s already been legalized in this state.
      2. This won’t have any significant impact on marijuana consumed within the city.
      3. Snoqualmie will be losing out on potential tax revenues.
      4. It will be just as “safe” as liquor sales within the city as it falls under the jurisdiction of the Liquor and Cannabis Board.

      What confuses me is what possible benefit people see from banning the sales in Snoqualmie. If we don’t want tacky head shops or “Mr. Weed” standing on the street corner, spinning a sign, then address that through code, rather than banning sales outright. All this semi-prohibition will do is increase the incentive for a bigger black market within the city.

    • JoeSixPack says

      The article presents the most relevant fact: Snoqualmie voters by a 57% majority.
      The city is already missing out on tax revenue. The lone recreational shop in Issaquah has done more than $5.5 million in sales since it opened Jan. 30, 2015.
      http://www.502data.com/license/414867
      Marijuana prohibition came to an end in Washington state several years ago. A no vote based upon a small but vocal group of residents is a step backward for our community, which already has an entrenched black market. Remember: Drug dealers don’t check ID, but state-approved stores do.

      • JoeSixPack says

        Edit: “The article presents the most relevant fact: Snoqualmie voters approved I-502 by a 57% majority.”

  3. I am ignorant regarding the legality of a “city” pouncing upon the legality of State Law. One should check on how the City “powers” conduct their business.. you know.. like the mayors office.. the police department and more. 2014 QUOTE: “Even the Washington state constitution has a provision saying local jurisdictions can’t prohibit any activity that state law authorizes, said Alison Holcomb, an attorney at ACLU Washington who helped craft Initiative 502, the 2012 law that
    legalized weed in the state.” These “bans” will certainly lead to very expensive court cases.. long term attorney fees etc.. to fight something that really takes a back seat to LIQUOR in this state. We are entering another period of Prohibition. Hence we continue the demonisation of a substance by zealots. One more time.. Good job folks.. spend countless thousands.. or more.. on this.. deep pockets those zealots have!! LOL

  4. On one hand the city wants to build supermarkets to keep dollars in Snoqualmie and out of Issaquah:

    “The move to bring a second, larger grocery store and more retail options to Snoqualmie was prompted by past economic studies showing the city suffers from a great deal of retail leakage, with approximately 73% of residents leaving Snoqualmie to shop at stores and businesses in nearby cities like Issaquah and North Bend. More retail options are predicted to keep more tax dollars in Snoqualmie.” On the city council voting to approve a retail development agreement from a January 6 article on this blog.

    And now people want to ban a business and inevitably send money to Issaquah. I’m confused.

  5. For those with selective amnesia:
    http://blog.seattlepi.com/marijuana/2014/01/16/aclus-holcomb-we-will-fight-city-bans-on-marijuana-businesses/
    Brad, have you or city counsel consulted with Ms. Holcomb? I expect you will eventually, but in a court room. That is, if a short-sighted, prohibition-era permanent ban is passed. This will also mean more sales and taxes go to Issaquah, yet again. It is an inevitability more I502 licenses will be granted in the future. Look at the preponderance of liquor stores and bars. How many places can we buy liquor or beer in Snoqualmie? Cigarettes? How are these any different from legal pot stores?
    I support a “no ban” vote and for the city to snap to the state law, to be ready for the future.

    • Paul, et al, I can only speak for myself and not other council members in saying this is a matter that I have not made a decision on yet. I personally have not made contact with Ms. Holcomb as she is not a resident of Snoqualmie and does not represent the interests of Snoqualmie. She is, in full disclosure, the writer for I-502, so I am not sure I would consider her an objective source on this topic. However, you do bring up a point that concerns me, which is the future exposure to litigation and whether the city could be fighting a losing battle over the long run. There is a bill circulating in the legislature (it does not appear that it has the support to get out of committee) but it would allow for cities to ban marijuana sales if a popular vote of the people were to pass a simple majority. We are still in the early stages of marijuana legalization being put into practice in Washington, there are a lot of questions to be answered yet. There are a number of other cities who have rejected legalization of marijuana sales, so Snoqualmie is not alone in considering a ban.

      • What is the basis of the argument to locally ban that which has been voted legal at the state level? Hasn’t the will of the people already been heard and met?

        • Paul, If you are directing your question my way I am not sure that I can speak authoritatively to that. Some might say that long term drug use may cause problems with the brain. Others may take your argument, that it is legal at the state level, and say that it is illegal at the federal level. Here is my question: Do the people of Snoqualmie, who voted in favor of marijuana legalization, also want the substance to be sold in retail outlets in the city. One might assume that if they vote in favor of one, that they vote in favor of the other. But opinion polling tells us that you can’t necessarily assume that voting for one means voting for the other. For example, adult entertainment is legal in Washington, but people may not necessarily want it in their town. With that example, I would pose the question if its possible that people want it legal, but not sold in a retail basis in their town.

  6. I’ve read a small article in this week’s SnoValley Star on this subject. I’ll quote “the City Council is concerned with secondary impacts, such as increase of burglaries associated with cash and marijuana on growing sites, or an increase of illegal activity such as drug use within the vicinity of any producer, processor, retailer or collective garden, according to council documents.”
    These very are weak arguments and I call B.S. on them. Once again, I get the feeling the government is attempting to control the taxpayers as “sheeple”, that we can’t look out for ourselves or spend our money on the things WE enjoy. I fail to be affected by this FUD the city council is promoting. I’m baffled as to the continued association of marijuana and crime. The police department isn’t worried about it, from what I have learned through talking with folks in the know. I also see Issaquah PD visiting the Issaquah Cannabis Company store. That store runs a tight ship and is running their business as legitimately as possible, contributing over $2 million to excise taxes in just over 1 year.
    In reality, I am more concerned about the increase in traffic and crime the new, gigantic shopping center will bring us, much more so than clients of a pot shop performing “illegal activities”. As a matter of fact, our lives are so steeped in legalities, I can hardly leave my house without breaking a law. 
    The city council needs to get their heads out of their collective butts and get to work on controlling this legal, taxable business in Snoqualmie. Has the council consulted the Issaquah council or PD? Are they having any problems with the pot shop associated with increased crime? I doubt it.
    Snoqualmie is an upscale community who can fend for ourselves as intelligent adults and parents, who doesn’t need more government protection. If an rare issue pops up, I am confident our PD can handle it without incident. We have one heck of a force for our small town. 🙂

  7. that was so sad to know but why they ban selling marijuana I don’t think it makes sense at all but for me, it has a reason why they ban selling it so we must respect it.

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