Small Town In Washington Expects To Open Its Own Legal Cannabis Store By Month’s End

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.”

Newly Released Public Records Uncloak Lobbying Campaign To Re-Direct Marijuana Tax Revenue To Washington Cities

WASHINGTON: Washington state’s legal cannabis landscape is now dotted with cities that have banned or placed moratoriums, via zoning laws, on marijuana businesses that were authorized under a statewide referendum approved by voters in November 2012.

Some 40 percent of Washington’s 281 cities have now gone that route, preventing legal marijuana businesses from operating in their communities. A number of the cities are opposed to legal cannabis businesses on principle, some because cannabis is still deemed illegal under federal law. But just as many or more are taking the stance as a means of wresting marijuana tax revenue from the state — which currently is the sole beneficiary of those taxes. The cities argue they need that new tax revenue in order to cover the cost of regulating marijuana businesses in their communities — with bulk of the sought-after tax proceeds being eyed for law enforcement purposes.

The Association of Washington Cities, AWC, is a nonprofit special-interest group with an active lobbying arm that represents all cities in the state. It has been one of the key organizations leading the charge in pressuring legislators and regulators to open up the cannabis tax spigot for the cities.

The agency charged with establishing the rules and issuing the licenses for legal marijuana business is the Washington State Liquor Control Board, overseen by a three-member commission. It has been a primary target of AWC’s lobbying effort, recent public records released to Narco News reveal.