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Government and Politics
In 2012, Washington and Colorado voters made history when they approved measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Washington Initiative 502 “authorizes the state liquor board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age or older.”Since the vote in Washington, the Liquor Board has written a complex set of rules for the state’s new, legal recreational cannabis marketplace. The agency has also set limits on the amount of marijuana that can be grown. And the Board has begun to license growers, processors and retailers.For now, the Obama administration has signaled it will not interfere with Washington and Colorado’s legal pot experiment, unless there is evidence that legal pot is “leaking” to other states or children are getting access to the legal product. The feds are also watching to see if criminal organizations exploit the legal market.The first marijuana retail stores in Washington opened in July 2014.Recreational marijuana is also set to become legal in Oregon on July 1, 2015 after voters approved Measure 91 in November 2014.

City Moratoriums Could Thwart Legal Marijuana

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Katheirne Hitt
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Flickr - tinyurl.com/mobc9zf

Legal pot? Not so fast. That’s the message from a growing number of Washington cities.

Several municipalities are considering whether to pass a moratorium on pot-related businesses. Others – like Bellingham and Olympia – have already enacted temporary bans.

Richland, Pasco and Kennewick are just the latest Washington cities to consider moratoriums. But it’s not just more conservative eastern Washington communities. Liberal Bellingham and Olympia have said ‘time out’ when it comes to legal, recreational pot.

Brian Smith with the Washington Liquor Control Board says that could put the state and local governments on a collision course. “What you may end up with is someone that has a state license but is unable to be able to operate at their local level.”

Smith says that sort of conflict could lead to court challenges. It could also mean the illicit market for marijuana continues to thrive in some cities.

The Association of Washington Cities says the moratoriums don’t necessarily mean no, never, no-how. But they are designed to buy cities a bit of time given all of the unknowns, like: what will the feds do and how many retail outlets will be allowed.