Washington: King County Bans Pot Businesses
By Derrick Stanley
The Metro King County Council imposed an emergency, 4-month moratorium on legal marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas. No public notice was given in advance of the action, but a hearing must be held within 60 days.
Council members said Monday in an 8-1 vote that the moratorium on growers and processors was spurred by a community meeting earlier this month in Ravensdale at which roughly 100 people registered opposition to pot businesses.
The council decided to extend the moratorium to retailers as well after hearing that shops were clustering in parts of Skyway and White Center.
Councilmember Reagan Dunn, a representative for rural areas, sponsored the emergency proposal. He said the lack of public input was necessary. Had the council not moved in stealthy fashion, Dunn said, pot entrepreneurs would have flooded the county with applications in advance of a moratorium.
The emergency moratorium took effect Monday, after the council’s vote. It prohibits King County from accepting or issuing any permits for pot businesses. The county must hold a public hearing within 60 days to allow feedback.
Dunn and several other council members said they did not support a lasting ban on legal business, but Dunn likened the lack of restrictions on growers and processors in the county’s rural residential areas to the “wild West.”
Councilmember Larry Gossett advocated for extending the moratorium to retailers. Gossett said he was concerned about shops clustering in less-affluent areas such as Skyway and White Center. Skyway resident Mark Johnston told the council that Skyway has five pot shops; eight stores have been licensed in White Center.
Johnston said he hadn’t known about the proposed moratorium and it was just “dumb luck” that he showed up to testify and apparently influenced the council.