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Friday, February 23, 2024
Feb. 23, 2024

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Just like that, Pasco is home to 2 legal cannabis shops after city lifts 10-year ban

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KENNEWICK — Lucky Leaf is now open in Pasco, a decade after the owners first secured a state license to operate in the city.

The store, owned by Shilo and David Morgan, opened Monday at 8 a.m. at 3501 Road 68, south of the I-182 eastbound ramps. It is the second legal cannabis shop to open in Pasco since the city lifted a ban on sales in June.

Green2Go opened to the public on Nov. 3 at 5904 Road 40.

Lucky Leaf and Green2Go are the only shops to open so far. Both faced a Dec. 12 deadline, or six months after the city authorizes sales, to open or lose their state-issued licenses.

The Morgans are old hands when it comes to cannabis. Pasco is their second location. The first Lucky Leaf is in downtown Spokane.

Pasco was the plan

That wasn’t the plan, said David Morgan. He is a Pasco native who expected to open a business in his hometown when marijuana became legal.

The couple applied for and received a Pasco license from the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board in 2013 as the state worked to implement I-502, the voter-approved initiative that decriminalized possession of small quantities by adults in 2012.

The plan was stymied when Pasco, along with Franklin County and the cities of Kennewick, Richland and West Richland, opted to ban local retail sales, citing Initiative 502’s unpopularity with Tri-City area voters.

The patchwork of local bans left pockets of unincorporated Benton County as the only place to do business. The first Green2Go opened in Finley. The Bake Shop and Altitude opened near Prosser. Nirvana Cannabis opened outside of West Richland.

Benton County later enacted its own ban, but it didn’t apply to existing stores.

Lucky Leaf 1st opening

The Morgans opened Lucky Leaf in Pasco anyway, operating for about two weeks in 2015 before they were ordered to close. The state transferred their license to Spokane and the couple followed. The move was difficult on the family, said Shilo Morgan. But they adapted and she said their children have thrived.

David Morgan, however, never gave up on Pasco.

“This is my hometown,” he said. Shilo is from western Washington but Morgan graduated from Pasco High School, Columbia Basin College and Washington State University Tri-Cities.

He regularly lobbied Pasco officials to reconsider legal cannabis sales, calling it good public policy.

Banning cannabis sales merely banned cannabis sales. It did not prevent residents from legally possessing it. Selling it legally offers customers access to legal, clean businesses that pay taxes and submit their products to third-party testing.

In June, the majority of the Pasco council indicated they were ready to let the public vote with its proverbial wallets.

“If the public determines they don’t want to patronize and these businesses struggle, then that’s not council’s responsibility,” Councilman Joseph Campus said at the time.

Equity license

The Morgans plan to open a second store in Pasco though not until 2024 or later after the couple and a partner were awarded a social equity license. Equity licenses are designed to ensure entrepreneurs from disadvantaged groups are able to participate in the potentially lucrative cannabis economy.

The team will apply for state technical assistance grants to help with startup costs in early 2024.

The Road 68 store occupies two suites that formerly housed a physical therapy business. The retrofit removed most walls to create an open floor plan with black and chrome fittings. Products are secured behind glass in counters.

The patient rooms were combined into a single room that serves as an office, security station and storeroom. Seventeen cameras record the comings and goings in and around the store, with video archived for 48 hours.

Greeters check IDs at the door to enforce state law that limits cannabis sales to those age 21 or older. The business sources products from around Washington state and banks with Numerica Credit Union.

Lucky Leaf carries cannabis and cannabis-related products, including vapes, flour and more. Business hours are 8 a.m.-11:55 p.m.

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