City Moratoriums Could Thwart Legal Pot

Aug 28, 2013

Legal pot? Not so fast. That’s the message from a growing number of Washington cities.

Several municipalities are considering whether to pass a moratorium on pot-related businesses. Others, like Bellingham and Olympia, have already enacted temporary bans. 

Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick are just the latest Washington cities to consider moratoriums. But it’s not just more conservative eastern Washington communities. Liberal Bellingham and Olympia have said "time out" when it comes to legal, recreational pot.

Brian Smith with the Washington Liquor Control Board says that could put the state and local governments on a collision course.

"What you may have (is) end up with is someone that has a state license but is unable to be able to operate at their local level," Smith said. 

Smith says that sort of conflict could lead to court challenges. It could also mean the illicit market for marijuana continues to thrive in some cities.

The Association of Washington Cities says the moratoriums don’t necessarily mean no, never, no-how. But they are designed to buy cities a bit of time given all of the unknowns, including what the feds will do and how many retail outlets will be allowed.