Citizens can still have a voice in how marijuana businesses will impact community

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category icon Editorials, Opinion

At the close of the marijuana license application submission period on Dec. 20, paperwork for more than 60 retail, producing and processing licenses had been submitted from Camas-Washougal area based businesses to the Washington State Liquor Control Board. The backgrounds of the applicants seem to vary as much as the names they chose for their potential endeavors. But at their core, all for one reason or another have a desire to get into the marijuana business.

And as the applications are being processed and scrutinized by the state agency, local cities are heavily involved in their own work to establish a framework for rules, regulations and zonings that will eventually guide how these businesses will fit into the community.

On Thursday, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office issued an opinion that created a whole new layer to this multi-faceted discussion.

The AG’s office said that Initiative 502, which legalized the possession and sale of recreational marijuana, does not prevent individual cities and counties from regulating or banning marijuana businesses.

According to the opinion, I-502 “includes no clear indication that it was intended to preempt local authority to regulate such businesses. We therefore conclude that I-502 left in place the normal powers of local governments to regulate within their jurisdictions.”

While some Washington cities have already indicated what direction they will travel when it comes to legalized marijuana, so far in Camas and Washougal firm paths forward have not been determined.

Local city leaders have, however, expressed a strong desire to hear from constituents on this issue that has the potential to have significant and varied impacts. Public meetings and hearings have and will continue to be scheduled. While ultimately it will be up to the city’s elected leaders to put into place rules and regulations regarding recreational marijuana, citizens can and should step forward to help guide them.