County to hold hearing on marijuana regulation

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WALLA WALLA — As the state prepares to release draft regulations on legalized recreational marijuana, local governments are looking at moratoriums on producing, processing and selling the drug to give them time review possible impacts — including conflicts with federal law.

The Walla Walla County commissioners will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday to take comments on the production, distribution and retail of marijuana as allowed by the state’s voter-approved I-502 before making a determination on either a moratorium or interim zoning regulations.

Nabiel Shawa, Walla Walla city manager said the city of Walla Walla is holding off for now.

“We’re aware of the option for a moratorium, but we’re waiting for the Washington state Liquor Control Board to release their draft regulations. We believe that will allow for a more substantive conversation” when the council takes up the issue.

The state Liquor Control Board staff now wants to present proposed new rules to consider on Sept. 4.

College Place City Administrator Pat Reay said “this is definitely something that our mayor (Rick Newby) has on his radar for discussion.” Nothing has been scheduled yet, “but we’re definitely paying attention.”

Like Walla Walla County, Pasco’s City Council will also consider a moratorium when it meets next week, according to the Tri-City Herald. The Richland City Council will decide this fall on a temporary ban and the Kennewick City Council has already approved a moratorium.

Pasco Councilman Saul Martinez said legalized marijuana puts the city at risk of violating federal law and interfering with what Washington voters want.

“This puts us between a rock and a hard spot,” he said.

The first licenses for marijuana-related businesses in the state are expected to be issued late this year or early next year.

Earlier this month state officials said they want to delay for a few months final rules for selling, growing and processing recreational marijuana in Washington state, after hundreds of people attended public meetings around the state to air their thoughts on the proposed rules.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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