The official vote for a ban on marijuana businesses in Bonney Lake brought about one of the largest City Council meetings of the year. Many citizens voiced their approval, or disapproval, of a recreational marijuana store in the city at the meeting.
Although citizen comments appeared to split the room nearly in half over the issue, the City Council remained unswayed by residents who wanted a recreational marijuana store and voted 6–1 to approve Ordinance No. 1502 (D15-08A) on Jan. 13.
This ordinance effectively bans marijuana growers, processors and retail stores from operating in the city limits.
“I think this is the right step,” said Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson by phone Friday, who was absent from the meeting. “I think Bonney Lake didn’t need a retail establishment.”
Johnson said that the majority of people he and other council members talked to over the past few months were against a marijuana retail shop inside the city, and while he knows the majority of residents voted to approve 1-502, he said most people didn’t understand the initiative would open the city to marijuana businesses.
The City Council is basing their ability to ban marijuana businesses from Bonney Lake on the opinion of Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Ferguson released an opinion January 2014 about I-502, which stated the initiative has no clear language that it intended to preempt local authority to zone or ban marijuana businesses.
“We therefore conclude that I-502 left in place the normal powers of local governments to regulate within their jurisdictions,” the statement reads.Among the crowd at the meeting was Pierce County council member and Bonney Lake resident Dan Roach.Roach, who supported a ban on marijuana businesses in unincorporated Pierce County, said that he approved of the council’s decision to ban marijuana businesses from Bonney Lake.
“Just because it is legal doesn’t make it right for our community,” Roach said, citing that marijuana remains a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance under federal law.
According to the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington, the new ordinance joins Bonney Lake with more than 49 cities and 4 counties that have also enacted a marijuana ban in Washington.
4Ever Healing in Bonney Lake
The Washington Liquor Control Board assigned Bonney Lake one recreational marijuana store based on the city’s population.
Saranjit Bassi was the lottery winner for the city from by the Liquor Control Board.
Bassi said that he was hurt by the ban and planned to file a lawsuit against the city.
The Liquor Control Board said that lottery winners cannot move outside of their allotted jurisdiction, even if the jurisdiction has allotted a ban on marijuana businesses
Mikhail Carpenter, spokesperson for the Liquor Control Board, said this means Bassi cannot move to a different jurisdiction or apply for a difference license.
“If they applied to the county lottery, they could move around the jurisdiction,” Carpenter said. “But they applied to the city lottery.” Lawsuits to overturn city and county bans have been filed against Fife, Kennewick and Pierce County, although so far, the bans have been upheld in the courts.