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News / Northwest

Wenatchee says no to pot businesses

City Council rejects exemption to city law that would have allowed them

The Columbian
Published: October 26, 2013, 5:00pm

WENATCHEE — Marijuana businesses will not be allowed to operate in the city of Wenatchee after the City Council voted down an exemption to city law that would have made it possible.

The 4-3 vote means it would take a change in federal law or a court order to open the city to pot-related businesses, the Wenatchee World reported.

Council members decided Thursday not to not exempt the manufacturing, processing and sale of marijuana from requiring a business license. The city’s current rules require all businesses comply with local, state and federal laws.

Some council members who voted against the exemption said they didn’t feel comfortable allowing businesses to circumvent federal law.

“Federal law is superior over the state,” Councilman Bryan Campbell said.

Washington last year legalized the possession of up to an ounce of pot by adults over 21, with voters deciding to set up systems of state-licensed growers, processors and sellers. The measure put state officials in the difficult position of crafting rules for a fledgling industry barred by federal law.

Cities and counties across the state have taken different approaches. Some cities have imposed moratoriums, postponing decisions. Others have allowed them but changed land-use rules to restrict where they can be located.

East Wenatchee businessman Mark McCants told the council Thursday that he wants to open a retail marijuana store in Wenatchee. He is also interested in opening stores in East Wenatchee, which has a six-month moratorium on such businesses, and Moses Lake.

Jim Zumini, executive director of Hospitality House Ministries, which operates four homeless shelters in the valley, said pot-related businesses should not be allowed. “It damages lives,” he said. “I just don’t see how you can move forward on this. This is just absurd.”

Chelan County commissioners have not yet voted on whether and how they will allow such businesses.