Pot banned in Clark County’s rural areas

FILE - Marijuana plants stretch toward the light in a grow room in Vancouver, Wash. Undated photo. (KOIN 6 News/Jonathan Simmons)
FILE - Marijuana plants stretch toward the light in a grow room in Vancouver, Wash. Undated photo. (KOIN 6 News/Jonathan Simmons)

CLARK COUNTY, Wash. (KOIN 6) — Clark County commissioners voted to stop all growing, processing and selling of recreational marijuana within its jurisdiction Tuesday, despite marijuana’s now-legal status in the state of Washington.

Clark County commissioners Tom Mielke and David Madore both voted in favor of a measure effectively re-banning the plant in the county’s unincorporated areas.

“Any time you have the increase in marijuana sales, there’s going to be additional policing things involved, and judicial is the court system, the jail system, the judges,” Commissioner Tom Mielke said. “We have to pay for that here.”

Several people told the commissioners police and court costs will go down because people won’t get busted for pot.

Pierce County and the City of Wenatchee have similar bans. The city council in Washougal also voted to keep a moratorium in place for three more months on Tuesday.

Clark County’s leaders have resisted Washington’s shift to a recreational marijuana state ever since voters approved I-502 in November 2012, citing the federal government’s classification of pot as a Schedule 1 drug.

Bobby Saberi, who owns Mary Jane’s House of Glass, said he was not surprised by Tuesday’s ban.

“At the end of the day, we’ve been doing this for a long time. We’ve been patient, and its a big change for people to get used to. Hopefully, we can all work together and try to find a result,” said Saberi, whose business is still welcome in Vancouver.

In August, the Board of County Commissioners — then comprised of three district representatives — adopted a six-month moratorium on the state’s newest industry. The Board eventually extended the moratorium through June 2014.

The ban only applies to the unincorporated parts of Clark County and the six retail licenses the state allows. That leaves nine licenses for inside the various city limits.

It’s unclear how Washington state officials will respond to the commissioners’ vote, though ACLU Drug Policy Director Alison Holcomb said Tuesday that her organization does not consider such bans valid or constitutional under Washington state law.

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