Mayors Say Moratoria Give Cities Time To Plan For Pot - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Mayors Say Moratoria Give Cities Time To Plan For Pot

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NBC Right Now is getting some answers from two mayors on how our local governments will move forward with the legal sale of recreational marijuana. NBC Right Now is getting some answers from two mayors on how our local governments will move forward with the legal sale of recreational marijuana.

NBCRightNow.com - NBC Right Now is getting some answers from two mayors on how our local governments will move forward with the legal sale of recreational marijuana.

Recent reports paint the marijuana moratoria as "law changes", but according to the city mayors John Fox of Richland and Steve Young of Kennewick, they are more like grace periods. In the Tri-Cities we have yet to outright ban the sales and people on both sides, for and against the sale of recreational marijuana, are actually in favor of the temporary suspensions.

"Federal government can say one thing today and do something tomorrow," explained Young. "In fact I've lived it for 30 plus years now. It's great to have something verbally stated. We as cities need to see something in writing."

Between a rock and a hard place, between the state and the feds our cities are stuck. There's a spoken agreement between the federal government that they will stay out of the sale of recreational marijuana in Washington, but that is not enough insurance for the cities to race into a new industry just yet. At a Kennewick public hearing even people looking to produce recreational marijuana were in favor of the moratorium because it would give the city time to figure out how to protect their budding businesses.

"The challenge they face is putting a lot of revenue inside of a business only for us to run into problems after that, so they want us to be careful, be patient and do all the right things before we proceed," said Young.

"One of the main things we could address during that time is zoning," said Fox.

In Richland, Fox believes the moratorium put into place is giving the city time to consider creating even more strict zoning laws than what the state has proposed, to keep marijuana stores as far away from schools as possible.

"Cities have not been pleased with what happened with the liquor tax when that was privatized," said Fox.

The cities were kept out of benefiting from hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes from liquor, now all going to the state. That is just another reason why they are waiting.

"How do you implement a law passed by the state when the state's not giving you any resources or revenue or showing to help you implement the program?" said Young.

Only two people attended the Richland public hearing. Both of them were in favor of completely banning the sales like what the city of Wenatchee has enacted and Yakima is trying to do. For now, the Tri-Cities is going to sit back and see how everything plays out. When the time is right, lawmakers say decisions will be made when they can ensure recreational marijuana can be an effective, taxable industry that wont get them in trouble with the Feds.

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