Retail marijuana store banned in Washougal

City Council votes to remove a sunset clause that would have expired today

The Washougal City Council has voted to indefinitely continue a ban on the retail sale, processing and production of recreational marijuana within the city limits.

The vote Monday was 5 to 2, to remove a sunset clause that was scheduled to expire today. If the clause had not been removed or extended, the retail sale, processing and production of marijuana, as well as medical marijuana cooperatives, could take place in Washougal.

Michelle Wagner voted, by phone, to remove the sunset clause. Paul Greenlee, Jennifer McDaniel, Dave Shoemaker and Dan Coursey voted the same way, in person.

The emergency ordinance, which needed at least five affirmative votes to pass, went into effect immediately.

Prior to the vote, Harvey Olson, a retired Seattle police officer who now lives in Washougal, questioned whether allowing retail sales of marijuana in Washougal would be an enrichment or detriment for local citizens, or a “cash cow for a few.”

Jeff Guard asked the council to honor the will of the people, referring to the November 2012 passage of Initiative-502, which decriminalized the use of recreational marijuana for age 21 and older.

In January 2014, the state Attorney General’s Office issued a formal opinion concluding that I-502 does not preempt local jurisdictions from regulating marijuana selling, processing and growing within their boundaries.

Sydney Mederos said people who want to purchase marijuana can buy it in Vancouver.

Shoemaker said if a retail marijuana business opened in Washougal, the city would have to cope with an increase in crime and violence.

Later in the meeting, Brent Boger and Joyce Lindsay voted in favor of holding a special municipal election April 25, 2017, for an advisory vote regarding whether Washougal should allow recreational marijuana-related businesses and medical marijuana cooperatives in the city.

That resolution did not pass, 2 to 5.

“I think the city is pretty closely divided,” Boger said.

Toward the end of the meeting, Jeff Guard said if local residents are concerned about addictions, they should be aware of people using opioids, heroin and methamphetamine in Washougal.

“There are syringes in city parks,” he said.