An effort to bring Woodland one step closer to allowing retail cannabis sales went up in smoke Tuesday night.
The Woodland City Council rejected an ordinance to allow those sales in city limits in a 4-3 vote.
Councilmembers Carol Rounds, Benjamin Fredricks, Janice Graham and Monte Smith voted against the ordinance. Councilmembers DeeAnna Holland, Karl Chapman and Dave Plaza voted for it.
The ordinance would have allowed cannabis sales in the city’s highway commercial zoning district, and taxes from the sales would have added between $40,000 and $120,000 to the city’s annual revenue, according to a city report.
While Washington voters approved legalizing recreational cannabis in 2012, cities, towns and counties can choose to prohibit or allow cannabis businesses in their jurisdictions. Woodland has banned retail sale of cannabis but allows businesses that produce and process the product.
Community Development Director Travis Goddard said Tuesday an applicant wishing to begin a business in the city requested the zoning change.
Fredricks voted against the council’s agenda at the start of the meeting and motioned to table the ordinance when it came up. He said he believes it’s a violation of meeting rules to even discuss a matter that is against federal law.
“I would be willing to have this conversation if we could change it at the federal level and allow it,” Fredricks said. “Then let’s have that conversation. We all took an oath of office to support the laws of the United States. … (And) we are not taking away anybody’s ability to get this medically.”
He also acknowledged that allowing recreational cannabis is a split issue in the community.
Plaza said he was so conflicted about the ordinance that he was still deciding how to vote during the council discussion Tuesday.
“On one hand, I have my duty and the oath I swore to obey the laws of this state and federal (government),” Plaza said. “While it’s legal in the state, it’s still illegal federally right now.”
“I’m thinking of voting no just because of that,” he said. “Citizens have brought their concerns to me about the scourge (recreational cannabis) could possibly cause in the neighborhoods. That being said, marijuana is already here. Kids are already getting it. I happen to know that using marijuana for medical uses is a good thing.”
“So on one hand, I’m thinking, income from anywhere, why would we turn it away?” Plaza said.
Rounds said she was sure about her decision.
For one, “the state is going to take most of the money,” she said. “Woodland is not going to get very much of the money. Period. Kids may be using it now, but I’d still like to see it farther away, where it’s a little tougher for them to get it.”
Holland said that fears of cannabis have been greatly exaggerated. She acknowledged the state-federal conflict in legality but argued that Woodland residents’ opinions have changed since the city banned recreational cannabis years ago, and said federal agents have not made it a priority to go after cannabis operations in Washington.
“We have a parks department with zero budget,” Holland said. “We have a lot of things here with zero budget. So if we change the zoning and somebody opens a store, some money is better than no money.”
Smith said he’d “rather deal with somebody who’s smoked pot than being drunk,” and said he appreciates the value of medical marijuana. But he said the council should find a better process if they want to tackle the issue.