Cannabis Retail Ban Lifted in Pasco Washington
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Cannabis Retail Ban Lifted in Pasco Washington

This week, the city of Pasco in Washington lifted its ten year ban on cannabis retailers. It was a historic change for this part of Washington. According to the Tri-City Herald, the city council voted 5-3 in favor of zoning amendments that will lift the prohibition. The newspaper reported that the vote marked the end of a ten-year struggle by local marijuana advocates and business owners in the city of 80,000 to ease government restrictions. The Herald reports that the ordinance will go into effect five days following approval, subject to any publication requirements. Pasco is the first community in the “Tri-Cities” metro area, a metro in eastern Washington that includes three communities bordering each other (Richland, Kennewick, and others). Washington became one of the two first states in the nation to legalize adult recreational cannabis in 2012 when voters approved a measure to end prohibition. Colorado voters also approved a similar proposal in the same year. Some countries and cities chose to opt out of Washington’s new law, voting instead for a ban on retail cannabis sales in their jurisdiction. As legalization spread across the country, some residents began to reconsider. The Tri-City Herald reported this year that “a 2021 community survey showed 46% of Pasco resident would not support changes to allow marijuana to be sold in city limits while about 45% said that they would strongly or somewhat back it.” In March, the newspaper reported that the Pasco City Council had voted to move forward “with plans to write an ordinance to lift their ban on retailing cannabis in commercial and Industrial zones,” while rejecting “a proposal to ask voters for opinions on the issue.” The Herald reported that they would need to pass a law in the next few weeks or months to allow stores to open to sell pot. Adam Lincoln, Interim City Manager, said that a recent estimate showed cannabis retailers could generate at least $200,000 in revenue annually for Pasco. That day came on Monday. The city council gave more details about the new ordinance. “The current draft ordinance limits the number of potential retail cannabis facilities to three (3) with up to four total stores as long as one of them is a’social equity licensee. This is reflective of current licenses that Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board have allotted to the City of Pasco and Franklin County in general. Although it is not clear what the effect of the Social Equity License Program will be, there is a possibility that licenses allotted to other counties could be located in Pasco at some point in the future. This is why a limit on the number of retail outlets was included in the draft ordinance. This is not a requirement in any ordinance, and it can be easily amended if Council so chooses. “It should be noted that this draft ordinance does NOT allow ‘cooperatives,’ and still prohibits cannabis processing and production facilities within the City Pasco as requested by Council.”


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