11/24/2014

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Pot distribution could soon be legal in city limits

Pot distribution could soon be legal in city limits
YAKIMA, Wash.-- We're less than two months away from pot being sold legally here in Washington State. Those rules are still being finalized. That has cities like Yakima in a hurry to get its rules in place. City Council will meet tomorrow to go over those options.

Licenses to sell marijuana will start being issued by the Washington State Liquor Control Board as soon as December first. That firm deadline has Yakima leaders trying to figure out how that will work here.

"The city has nothing in place to say yay or nay," Yakima Senior Assistant City Attorney Mark Kunkler said.

Yakima plans to change that. City leaders will review the options for selling pot within city limits. There are two main options. First, Yakima could keep the law already in place. That would make any marijuana distribution illegal in the city. However, pot would still be available outside city limits.

"By creating an island where you don't provide it, are you really making a difference?" City Manager Tony O'Rourke questioned. "Probably not."

The other choice is to change the existing rules so recreational pot can be sold in Yakima. It would be legal on commercial and industrial land while still at least a thousand feet away from buildings like schools and libraries.

"It would be consistent with what the state's doing as a whole and what virtually every city will be doing," O'Rourke said.

City Manager Tony O'Rourke acknowledges pot sales could generate a lot of money in taxes. However, that money would go to the state initially. It's not clear yet how that would get divided among cities later. He says getting the system in place now would keep Yakima from having to play catch up later.

If city council decides to allow recreational marijuana, a decision would have to be in place by the spring. You can read all of the steps and deadlines Yakima must meet here.
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