The legal marijuana industry isn’t open for business yet in Washington, but pot shops already are encountering resistance as dozens of local governments impose bans, moratoriums and other restrictions on the businesses.
Reuters staff writer Eric M. Johnson reports that nearly 50 local cities and towns have enacted bans, moratoriums and other restrictions on marijuana shops. Yakima Nation — a Native American tribe — has banned cannabis on its reservation.
Cries of frustration and lost investment dollars have reverberated across the state, with investors and pro-pot activists warning the bans will reduce tax revenues and delay the long-term goal of quashing the black market, a major selling point of ending prohibition.
Opposition had been simmering and played out broadly along geographic and ideological lines. Liberal Seattle, the birthplace of grunge music and Starbucks coffee, is welcoming pot shops while the more conservative eastern agricultural hubs Yakima and Wenatchee pursued outright bans.
Johnson reports that as other states, including Alaska, Arizona and Oregon, consider legalizing marijuana, Washington’s experience will be closely watched.
But the rollout already appears bumpier in Washington state than it was in Colorado, where the nation’s first commercial pot stores opened with few hiccups under a similar scheme in January, legalization advocates said.
The Washington bans mean that about a million residents, largely in southern and eastern portions of the state, may have to drive up to hundreds of miles if they want to buy grams of Kush and trippy gummy chews, says the Seattle-based Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy.
Other marijuana headlines worth your time:
Crime still isn’t devouring Denver 4 months after legal pot (Matt Ferner, The Huffington Post)
Colorado Symphony tries to address Denver’s marijuana concerns over ‘Classically Cannabis’ concerts (7News Denver)
And if you’ve been following industrial hemp issues, you might be interested in this development out of Kentucky, which has aggressively pursued a hemp program.
— Noelle Crombie
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