Washington is leading the nation as a state on the frontier of marijuana legalization, but many city governments say they're just not ready for pot sales in their town.
KENNEWICK, WA - Washington is leading the nation as a state on the frontier of marijuana legalization, but many city governments say they're just not ready for pot sales in their town.
A new study by the Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy in Seattle surveyed the 75 biggest cities in the state and results show many cities are taking a step back from the law.
"Some people might be shocked by how many moratoriums were passed but I think that's a natural reaction. So I'm optimistic that many of these cities, even though the pot moratorium was done in good faith, that they really just are trying to wrap their heads around it," said Drew Matthews, researcher and author of the study.
The study found 34 cities in the study placed a moratorium on marijuana sales, 23 cities in the study adopted zoning rules for retail sales, 14 cities didn't take any action and four cities banned it. Right now, Yakima is considering a ban.
Kennewick is one local city with a moratorium in place.
"It's hard for a group of elected officials such as city council to vote to approve or not approve something if we don't have any answers, if we don't have all the answers we need to make that decision," said Kennewick Mayor Steve Young.
I-502 may be law now, but in some cities interested buyers will need to make a trip to purchase marijuana for a while longer.
"People might be expecting access because they voted for it and Washington state passed it, but the way things are set up right now, there are certain municipalities that are in areas of the state that people would have to travel dozens, if not hundreds of miles to access it," Matthews said.
People applying for marijuana licenses may pass all the state requirements, but if a city government won't allow it then they can't get the license.
Local officials say legal action might follow future complaints, but there are too many unknowns right now.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is expected to issue a decision on the state-municipal law conflict later this month.