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May 16, 2021

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Woodland OKs pot in segment of city

Ordinance allows growers, processors, but not retail shops

By , Columbian Small Cities Reporter
Published:

Woodland has become the latest Southwest Washington city to give the green light to the recreational marijuana industry.

In a 5-1 vote Monday night, the Woodland City Council adopted an ordinance that permits two prongs of the new industry to take root in a small section of the city west of the railroad tracks. Under the new law, marijuana growers and processors can open businesses in the light and heavy industrial zones of that area.

Retail pot shops remain illegal in the city, but the new regulations pose no restrictions on consumption of the drug.

Councilors Marshall Allen, Jennifer Heffernan, Susan Humbyrd, Al Swindell and Scott Perry supported the ordinance, and Councilor Marilee McCall cast the lone vote against it. Councilor Benjamin Fredricks, who’s been one of the city’s most vocal opponents of the industry, was absent from the meeting.

The vote came less than a month after the council rejected a similar proposal to allow pot growing and processing in a broader area and retail in the city’s highway commercial zone.

In early November, Perry suggested the city limit pot growing and processing businesses to the area west of the railroad tracks.

“That’s basically an agricultural area, and marijuana now is a legal product,” Perry said Monday night. “It’ll be grown in buildings, it’ll be secured, it’ll be regulated and so forth by the state.”

Initially, the other councilors appeared disinterested in the idea, but four of them favored Perry’s plan in a preliminary vote on Nov. 17.

McCall, who opposed the plan, said the council gave the public too little warning that last month’s vote would come up.

“It just leaves a really bad taste in my mouth the way that it happened,” she said. “We had people coming to speak in favor of a moratorium and then this was brought forward instead.”

The final vote followed a brief debate among the councilors and tense testimony from several residents, urging the city to ban all recreational pot businesses. McCall cited the city’s strategic plan, which shares concerns about increased drug trafficking throughout Southwest Washington, especially along the Interstate 5 corridor.

“I guess I just sit here confused that we raise these concerns in a strategic plan, and then we vote in a way that doesn’t honor what we say that we stand for,” McCall said. “And for another thing, we’ve had quite an outcry from our public and our voters that have reminded us they voted they didn’t want it here.”

Perry said the ordinance was a good compromise, because it bans retail. He and Swindell said the industry will be located in an area that could use more job opportunities.

“We’re allowing our farmers to grow it in a controlled environment,” Swindell said. “I see a benefit for jobs.”

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