Local Governments Mulling Marijuana Rules - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Local Governments Mulling Marijuana Rules as I-502 Implementation Nears

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - For the first time in the nation's history, two states are trying to figure out how to govern the legal use of marijuana. Right now there are a lot more questions than answers but locally, city governments are working to hammer out the details.

While neither Kennewick, Pasco nor Richland have decided exactly what is going to happen, time is running out to make those decisions. Soon, people can apply for licenses through the state to produce, process and sell marijuana legally.

"Certain communities have slowed down the process with moratoriums. They want to take a look at what the ultimate rules look like and how they're going to address it at the local level because it is specific to various communities when these rules roll out," said Brian Smith, a spokesman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

"Initially, I think we're looking at doing a six month moratorium. Just kind of take a seat back and see how it plays out," said Kennewick City Councilman Don Britain.

Britain said after that six months they may apply for a one year moratorium but all of it is not 100% decided yet. As for Pasco, the council there will discuss this same issue on August 26th.

"What we plan to do is present council with three options, pretty standard options. One of course, is to prepare a moratorium that would put a halt to accept any licenses while we wait for other cities to see what their experiences are," said Pasco Community and Economic Director Rick White.

The other two options are developing rules and regulations for the licensees and relying on provisions in the zoning code that were put in place when medical marijuana was legalized. 

The Liquor Control Board said I-502 has no provisions for cities to totally opt out even if moratoriums delay it.

"The more that we can get this initiative implemented statewide, across all communities and across all counties, the better chance we'll have of being able to minimize the black market," said Smith.

At this time, Richland's City Council does not have the issue on any draft agendas yet. 

Another major issue is the fact that marijuana is still federally illegal. It's a Schedule I drug, right alongside heroin and LSD, making these new rules even more troublesome for local governments.