Benton County Now Officially Seeking Pot Ban on New Business
It originally began as a moratorium on new pot shops and business, but now County Commissioners are taking a stronger stance.
Largely because of the firestorm of opposition to a new proposed West Richland pot store, commissioners have now officially voted to pursue a ban. According to the Tri-City Herald, they voted 3-0 in favor this week.
The ban would grandfather in the three existing stores, which include Prosser's Altitude, the Bakeshop on Griffin Road, and the Green 2 Go near Finley.
However, a ban, unlike a moratorium, would not allow any new stores to take the place of any of these three if they go out of business. If they somehow were to all go under, no pot stores would be available in the county.
Much of this movement is the result of a proposed West Richland pot shop that would be located in a residential area, and less than 125 feet from a daycare and early learning center. State law prohibits that, but that law only applies, say officials, to state licensed facilities. Reportedly those facilities are not state licensed.
However, a petition has been started, and opposition to the store has been loud and growing. Neighbors also have said they don't want the traffic and some say bluntly, the 'type of customers' who frequent pot stores, in their area. Technically, the store, proposed by Nirvana LLC (it's parent company) does meet county criteria. It's on a small unincorporated plot of county land inside the West Richland city limits...a donut hole. But that hasn't stopped opponents from fiercely opposing it.
Benton County initially didn't pass a local ban in 2012 after I-502 passed, largely because they were wary of costly lawsuits etc. Kennewick, Richland and Pasco did. The language in I-502 didn't legally prevent cities and counties from enacting their own pot business bans within their boundaries. With over 60 percent of area voters rejecting legal pot, most officials sided with their constituents and passed these bans on growing, processing and selling pot.
That's why we have such a confusing mix of areas where pot can and cannot be sold.