The Woodland City Council turned down the potential of retail cannabis business coming to a part of the city, voting in a 4-3 decision to not approve an ordinance that would allow such business last week.
During their Sept. 8 meeting, the council voted to not adopt an ordinance that would have been a change to zoning in the city’s highway commercial district allowing for retail marijuana sales to be a permitted business. The council’s discussion largely focused on the legality of cannabis at the federal level, as well as relaying feedback they had heard both for and against allowing such a business to come to the city.
A few members of the public spoke about the ordinance, which city Community Development Director Travis Goddard said was spurred by an applicant looking to open up a shop in the city. Tevin Atkinson, the Washington, Hawaii and Alaska territory manager for Hawthorne Gardening, formerly known as Sunlight Supply, spoke in favor of the ordinance, noting he was one of two business partners looking to establish a retail business in the city. Apart from being able to open the business, he noted a desire to help in community gardening and botany classes as part of outreach in broader activity looking to benefit the city.
“I don’t just want a ‘yes’ vote from the city council. I want to know what we can do to make Woodland a better place,” Atkinson remarked.
Another person who testified, Randy Olson, read posts on social media from individuals in favor of the ordinance, which noted the potential tax revenue, cannabis’ legality statewide and the purported benefits of it for those with medical issues, as well as those who said residents’ use of cannabis was inevitable even if they had to head to Longview or Battle Ground to purchase it. He also noted comments against the ordinance, which focused on addiction potential and a cannabis shop potentially drawing in the “wrong crowd” to the city.
Councilor Benjamin Fredricks moved to table the ordinance, arguing that cannabis’ illegality at the federal level prohibited the council from discussing the ordinance.
“I would be willing to have this conversation if we could change it at the federal level and allow it,” Fredricks remarked. He added that legality was a split issue in the community, saying that 2012’s Initiative 502 that legalized cannabis in the state had a slim margin against its passage in Woodland.
Fredricks said he had been approached by individuals “adamantly opposed” to allowing retail sales of marijuana, and alongside councilors Carol Rounds, Janice Graham and Monte Smith voted against the ordinance.
Councilor DeeAnna Holland voted to approve the ordinance, seconded by fellow councilor Dave Plaza, who argued against the initial tabling by saying it was important for councilors to have their opinions on the issue known to the citizens. He said he was conflicted with the ordinance, noting that federally cannabis was still illegal and adding he’s heard from residents who were worried about what a business would bring to the community.
“That being said, marijuana’s already here. Kids are already getting it,” Plaza said. He added he knew people who benefitted from cannabis use for medical issues such as migraines.
Councilor Rounds said that the majority of tax revenue would be going to the state, adding she was in favor of keeping a retail location out of the city even if youth were still able to get cannabis farther away.
Though Holland stressed the vote was a zoning issue she did comment on the purported ethical nature of what the ordinance could potentially bring, saying she felt the discussion “grossly underestimate(d) the weed that has been smoked in this community.”
“For real, the 80s in this town, everybody was growing it in their backyard,” Holland remarked.
Holland acknowledged the issue of cannabis’ legality at state and federal levels, though she questioned why the city would potentially turn down a source of revenue. Going back to zoning, she said that the city had code on the books allowing for strip clubs, though there were no such businesses in the city of that nature.
“It’s a zoning thing that Mr. Goddard’s asked for,” Holland remarked.