WASHINGTON: The City of North Bonneville is only weeks away from securing a license to open Washington’s first municipally controlled and operated recreational marijuana store, which local leaders say could serve as a model to be adopted by cities across the state.
The bucolic community of some 1,000 residents is located along the Columbia River amid a host of lakes, streams, hiking trails, panoramic vistas and within an hour’s drive of Mount Hood and year-round skiing. North Bonneville, once fed by a vibrant timber industry now in steep decline, now banks on tourism as a major economic engine, local leaders say. The city also is only some 45 miles northeast of the attractions of a big city — Portland, Oregon, a state that, like Washington, recently legalized the production and sale of recreational marijuana.
But it is not tourism, at least at this point, that is the driving force behind North Bonneville’s decision to get into the legal marijuana business. The primary reason for that choice, according to North Bonneville Mayor Don Stevens, is to assure the city takes control of its own destiny in the inevitable evolution of a legal cannabis market that holds great promise but still remains marked by citizen concerns and pockets of hard-core opposition to the very idea of legal weed.
“I view [North Bonneville’s approach} as the city being welcoming to the whole idea of recreational marijuana legalization and trying to ensure it’s done as cleanly and professionally and with as much of an eye on the public health and welfare as possible,” Stevens said. “The financial aspects of it are certainly part of the equation, but they weren’t the primary factor.”