Sunday, May 31, 2020
May 31, 2020

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La Center mulls marijuana ban

Pot businesses could be allowed in some areas or banned altogether

By , Columbian Small Cities Reporter

La Center may take a rigid stance against marijuana next month, as city officials are considering a ban on growing, processing and retail operations for both the recreational and medical uses of the drug.

Earlier this month, the La Center City Council asked city staff to begin putting together a proposed ordinance that would move the city past a series of temporary bans two years after voters legalized the drug in the 2012 election. The city’s current moratorium on recreational marijuana businesses expires in March.

The ordinance should be ready for a vote in January, said Suzanne Levis, the city’s finance director. Two options are on the table: drafting regulations to allow some marijuana businesses in certain commercial zones or to simply ban all marijuana businesses. Which way the council will go is unclear at this point.

The council’s interest in taking a final action on marijuana comes shortly after running a community survey to gauge where residents stand on the issue. The survey recently went out to more than 1,000 houses. But only 161 surveys were returned, a sample size the city considers too small to accurately represent the community of a little more than 3,000 people.

Nonetheless, the councilors are taking the survey results into consideration as they prepare to move forward with the ordinance.

About 70 percent of the survey respondents were against marijuana in La Center, with most showing stronger opposition to recreational pot. The survey was conducted using a five-point scale to reflect a range of opinions on the matter.

More than four-fifths of the respondents had a strong opinion about the drug, whether they were for or against a ban. Only about 23 percent backed the idea of pot businesses, with the strongest support coming for medical marijuana.

La Center remains the last Clark County city with a moratorium on marijuana operations. Only Vancouver and Battle Ground have opened the door to the new recreational pot industry.

In October, Ridgefield outlawed recreational pot businesses and collective gardens for medical marijuana. That month, Camas also adopted a recreational pot ordinance, banning growing and processing while putting a temporary prohibition on pot shops.

In August, Washougal adopted a two-year ban on recreational pot businesses and medical marijuana gardens. And Woodland recently banned growing and processing, while allowing pot shops in a small section of the city west of the railroad tracks.