Yakima Lifts Pot Business Ban, Tri-Cities Next?
The battle is far from over, say anti-pot supporters, and the council vote was split. But the ban has been lifted for now.
When I-502 passed legalizing recreational marijuana, the initiative did not contain specific language prohibiting cities and counties from enacting their own pot business bans within their own limits. Sure, you can smoke it if you're legal age, but the ACLU and others who wrote it made big mistakes.
Since Washington State AG Bob Ferguson issued his non-legally binding opinion supporting the city and county ban idea, it's held up in court nearly a dozen times, including several in Benton County.
Now, after a bitter battle, the City of Yakima by a 4-3 vote, lifted it's ban on pot business. That means now marijuana can be grown, processed and sold at state pot shops. The city will now have to draft ordinances determining where the shops can be, and many other details. How far from schools, parks etc.
The council did unanimously approve a plan to create the zoning and process to map out how the pot businesses will be regulated and their locations. The council hopes to have a plan ready to look at, or implement, by July 5th.
Some observers now say this might cause the Tri-Cities to re-think their bans. Pot business is legal in Benton County, and Prosser, where the only pot store in the region, Altitude, is located.
I-502 was crushed at the ballot box in Benton and Franklin Counties, despite passing statewide overall. The margin in Yakima county was not as severe.