Asotin considers pot moratorium | News
Asotin County may join the small list of counties and cities that have enacted moratoriums to ban marijuana, even though 56 percent of Washington State's voters last year approved Initiative 502. That initiative made it legal to use marijuana recreationally in the state. Locally, 51 percent of Asotin County's voters (5,027) voted no, while 49 percent voted yes (4,829) on the initiative.
On its agenda Monday night, the Asotin County Board of County Commissioners will consider a resolution declaring a moratorium that prohibits the production, processing, packaging, and retail sale of recreational marijuana and prohibiting granting of any county license or permit related to such activity. According to county officials, the item is not open for public comment, although there are two, 10-minute periods available for the public to comment on agenda items.
Last month, the City of Clarkston passed a six-month moratorium. Other entities that have passed such moratoriums include Yakima County, the cities of Sunnyside, DuPont, Walla Walla, and Olympia, among others.
Under I-502, the Washington State Liquor Control Board is in charge of the licensing and regulation of the state's marijuana industry. So far, two applications have been received from potential licensees in Asotin County. If a marijuana retailer meets the state’s requirement for a license then it will be granted, WSLCB officials have said, but they will have to comply with local codes and regulations.
Mikhail Carpenter with WSLCB Communications says having a governmental agency pass a moratorium such as this is not uncommon, but I-502 does not allow cities and counties to opt out. "It will likely end up in a legal battle of some sort," he says, adding that the law requires that the public have reasonable access to marijuana in an attempt to eliminate the black market.
Initiative author Alison Holcomb has said previously that an individual who receives a state marijuana license but is denied a local license or permit due to ban can sue the local government on state preemption grounds.
The Asotin County Commissioners will meet at 7:00 p.m. on Monday.
WSLCB Rules are available HERE.