Camas approves smoke shop rules

New regulations will not impact established business

From now on, smoke shops will only be allowed on property that meets a particular set of guidelines.

On Oct. 26, the Camas City Council voted unanimously to allow smoke shops in areas zoned community commercial and regional commercial.

In addition, the ordinance requires that smoke shops and head shops be sited a minimum of 1,000 feet from the perimeter of the grounds of any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, library or game arcade. The new law also states that no smoke shop can be located within five miles of an existing smoke shop.

Since marijuana became legal with the passage of Initiative-502 in 2012, Washington cities have seen increased interest in the sale of drug paraphernalia that can typically be used for tobacco products as well.

“There was a smoke shop that opened in Camas earlier this year,” said Community Development Director Phil Bourquin. “It happened to be located in proximity to schools and parks. This created a level of displeasure, of which you heard quite a bit about.”

Camas Smoke Shop, which sells smoking and vaping products, is located at 1410 N.E. Everett St., across the street from Crown Park and not far from Liberty Middle School.

Councilman Don Chaney suggested the council consider a complete ban on smoke shops.

Mayor Scott Higgins disagreed

Any change to the zoning regulations for this type of business would not impact Camas Smoke Shop in its current location. It would be allowed to continue operating as a non-conforming use.

“If we go to an outright ban, then there is no incentive for that business to ever move, because they are grandfathered-in in their current location, and they will be there forever,” Higgins said. “That would defeat what I am trying to do, which is find a place that makes sense in zoning elsewhere, to then incentivize through public discourse, conversation and influence a chance for them to relocate.”

Prior to the Oct. 26 action, the city had no zoning regulations relating specifically to the sale of paraphernalia used for tobacco or marijuana use.

On Oct. 26, the City Council also voted 5-2 to ban the establishment of marijuana retail businesses within city limits.