Pasco, Washington could reconsider marijuana ban

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Citizens of Pasco want to be able to buy marijuana locally

Washington may have legalized recreational marijuana six years ago, but some residents in the state still have a difficult time finding a local supply. This is because several cities, such as Richmond and Pasco, opted to not allow local dispensaries, citing the results of the bill in 2012 that showed a certain level of unpopularity surrounding local distribution. Richmond is already considering a push by its residents to open up the industry and, now, Pasco is following suit. It is receiving increased pressure by locals to reverse its ban and allow legalized recreational opportunities within the city’s borders.

Dozens of similar bans are found throughout Washington. In Richmond and Pasco, supporters of marijuana are arguing that the local governments aren’t acting in the best interests of the communities, and that they are forcing residents to have to drive out of town in order to purchase something that is legal in the state.

Richland is preparing to discuss a new legalization initiative during its annual retreat, scheduled for January 29. The initiative is being led by Legalize Richland, which has been pushing for a change in policy since last year. 2,700 valid signatures were submitted on a petition on November 6, calling for the City Council to reverse its position or allow voters to decide. The city’s attorney stated that the petition wasn’t legal, but Richmond Mayor Bob Thompson, along with Council Ryan Lukson, said that the citizens have the right to have their petition discussed.

In Pasco, the pressure is just beginning to build a significant following. Two of the four marijuana retailers that were authorized to launch operations by the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board have gotten involved and are helping to lobby for changes. However, unlike in Richmond, Pasco’s mayor, Matt Watkins, is more resigned to allow the status quo to remain.

While Washington gave cities and towns the right to decide on marijuana’s fate, it was done so with the expectation that lawmakers would follow the will of the people, since this is what they’re elected to do. If enough support is gathered by the city’s residents, perhaps elected officials would open their eyes and realize that they need to respond appropriately.