Marijuana moratorium extended in Washougal

Some residents suggest the city could benefit from pot tourism

The Washougal City Council has extended a marijuana moratorium by three months, after listening to comments during a public hearing.

The unanimous decision, regarding the retail sale, processing and growing of recreational marijuana within the city limits, occurred during the May 27 meeting.

A previous ordinance was set to expire yesterday.

The chief executive officer of Mary Jane’s House of Glass, Brandon Brock, said a retail marijuana business would bring jobs and tourism to Washougal.

Mary Jane’s House of Marijuana, at 245 Sixth St., was ranked first in a lottery, as determined by the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

Alex Yost, co-owner of OurBar, in downtown Washougal, asked the council, “what are you waiting for?”

“Open your minds to the possibility of change,” she said, in support of allowing a retail marijuana shop to open in the city.

Dan Duringer, of Washougal, said he voted against Initiative 502, when it was presented to voters in November 2012.

“Recreational drug use is not for the community’s benefit,” he said.

I-502, approved by the majority of participating voters in Washington, allows individuals 21 and older to possess and use marijuana-related paraphernalia and any combination of one ounce of usable marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana infused product in solid form or 72 ounces of marijuana infused product in liquid form.

Chuck Miller said marijuana was a gateway drug for his son who was “in and out of prison.”

“It destroyed his life,” Miller added.

Bob Liggett moved from Portland to Washougal three years ago.

He said he did not understand why the council would want to encourage recreational marijuana use.

“Do not make it convenient,” Liggett added.

Bob Saberi encouraged council members to consider potential tourism and economic benefits of a retail marijuana business.

Jared Northum, of Washougal, said he represented young families with children.

“Tourism should not rely on the sale of marijuana,’ he said. “I would fear for the safety of my children riding bikes around people who are high.”

Rich Blum, pastor of Bethel Community Church, said he does not want youth to have access to recreational marijuana.

He is a former resident of Colorado, which also legalized recreational marijuana in November 2012.

“Friends tell me there are children in emergency rooms after taking marijuana in gummy bear form,” Blum said.

Washougal City Councilman Brent Boger talked about holding an advisory vote this year, to ask Washougal voters if they want marijuana businesses in the city.

Councilwoman Jennifer McDaniel described marijuana businesses as “not family friendly or a positive tourism draw.”

“Gambling and card rooms are banned, because the community does not want them,” she said.

Councilman Dave Shoemaker said health considerations are more important than economics.

“I’m not interested in pot tourism or those it would attract,” he said.

“Let’s keep this social and health disaster out of our city,” Shoemaker added.

Councilwoman Connie Jo Freeman, a 1969 high school graduate, said she watched “so many people become entangled” with drugs at that time in California.

“Family members have been entrapped in Washougal,” she said.

Councilwoman Joyce Lindsay supported the moratorium.

“Banning it is not keeping it out of our community,” she said. “It is here.”

Earlier that day, Clark County Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke voted to ban the establishment of marijuana production, processing and retail sales facilities in the unincorporated areas of the county.

A moratorium in Camas has an expiration date of Oct. 21.