The Pasco City Council moved their weekly meeting to Tuesday this week, from Monday, to observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.  It was one more day those who support and oppose lifting the recreational marijuana moratorium in the City limit had to wait to share their thoughts.

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Recreational marijuana was permitted in Washington State with the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012. A caveat was that if Cities and Counties chose to place a moratorium on recreational marijuana sales, and not allow it, they could.  Pasco, Kennewick, Richland, and West Richland all placed moratoriums, as did Franklin County.

Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
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On the agenda was "Considerations for Retail Sales of Cannabis Options", along with other business.  Public comment was heard before Council discussed the matter and a number of people spoke on the issue.  Three Franklin County elected officials, Assessor John Rosenau, Sheriff Jim Raymond, and District 2 Commissioner Rocky Mullen gave their thoughts, among a number of others at the 9:20 mark of the meeting.

Council came back to the issue in the "Unfinished Business" part of the agenda at 1:29:54 to continue discussion.  The goal of the meeting last night was not to lift the moratorium, but to consider two proposals via resolution and then give City staff direction on drafting the ordinance and writing the corresponding municipal codes for the zoning district that would be impacted.

Of the seven proposals that were written, it came down to two proposals that were debated among Council members.  Option A would have allowed Recreational marijuana sales in Commercial Zones 2 and 3 along with Industrial Zones 1, 2, and 3 as an outright permitted use.  Option B would only allow recreational marijuana sales in Industrial Zones 1, 2, and 3 through the conditional use permit process.

City of Pasco Facebook page
City of Pasco Facebook page
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Option A was the first considered and in the initial simple voice vote it was 4-3 in favor.  A roll call vote was asked for and Mayor Blanche Barjas changed her vote for "Yea" to "Nay" in the roll call saying "I would like for it to go in industrial and not downtown."  Option B advanced with a 4-3 vote with Councilmen Serrano, Brown, and Milne voting "Yea" along with Mayor Blanche Barajas.  Option B also saw a vote change as Councilman Milne initially voted "Nay" but changed his vote to "Yea" when B had enough votes to fail.

Now City Staff will be tasked with drafting ordinances and accompanying changes to the municipal code before bringing it to City Council for a final vote.  The date for that meeting is yet to be determined, but the ending of the moratorium in Pasco is one step closer.

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