Marijuana question returns to cities' agendas

As moratoriums expire, councils mull whether to extend or act to set policy

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Leaders in several small Clark County cities expect to decide in April whether marijuana operations will have a place in their communities, but some say they may need more time.

A number of citywide moratoriums are set to expire in the next few months. The first, in Camas, will end April 14.

The Camas City Council plans to hold a public hearing April 7 before voting on an extension that night. Mayor Scott Higgins suspects the councilors may continue the temporary ban a little longer to buy more time to mull over their options.

“If we’re still working on this in July, I’m going to be disappointed,” Higgins said.

The Liquor Control Board has allotted one pot shop for Camas, but the main question before the council is whether to allow growing, processing and retail, or to block some kinds of operations in the city, Higgins said. In the meantime, city officials are reaching out to gauge the community’s stance, he said.

The Vancouver City Council approved marijuana regulations this month, ahead of all other Clark County cities. Higgins said he doesn’t mind being a step behind, because it gives Camas a chance to learn from Vancouver’s experience.

“We’re OK with other jurisdictions’ getting done before us,” he said. “It’s nice to not be first.”

Voters approved Initiative 502 in 2012, legalizing possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older. The state Liquor Control Board, which oversees the implementation of the new law, has decided to allow 334 marijuana retailers throughout Washington.

Clark County can have up to 15 pot shops, including six in Vancouver and one apiece in Washougal, Camas and Battle Ground. A few other cities are thinking about eventually opening to the recreational pot business.

Ridgefield

The Ridgefield City Council held a study session Thursday on its own prospects for medical and recreational marijuana operations. But by the end of the meeting, too many questions remained for the councilors to make a decision, Mayor Ron Onslow said.

“They want to know what other options they have,” Onslow said. “They want to know what some of the other jurisdictions are doing.”

A number of people have shown interest in both growing and selling marijuana in Ridgefield, he said. But the councilors are divided.

“There’s a lot of feelings and opinions in this, so it’s questionable,” Onslow said. “It’s kind of an even mix about how they feel.”

Ridgefield’s temporary ban ends in late May, he said. The council will meet again on April 10 for another study session before voting on a potential moratorium extension.

La Center, Woodland

The La Center City Council, which has no marijuana moratorium, planned a public hearing on the issue but held off because Councilor Al Luiz couldn’t be there. It will take place at the council’s next meeting, April 9, Councilor Elizabeth Cerveny said.

A temporary ban on marijuana-related operations in Woodland expires in May. The Woodland City Council plans a special meeting April 14 to discuss its options.