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In Washington State, which passed a recreational cannabis law in 2012, there is a vigorous debate on where recreational cannabis stores can be located. Many cities and towns have adopted moratoriums to prevent the new cannabis economy from coming to their town. Those who are opposed to retail cannabis stores cite concerns over public safety, exposure to children, and the wacky weed still being illegal under Federal law. One small town in southern Washington has decided to take matters into their own hands in order to avoid cannabis controversy in their town of about 1,000 by opening their own retail cannabis store.

North Bonneville, Washington located in Skamania County, in southern Washington, has formed a Public Development Authority (PDA) with the express purpose of applying for one of the two retail cannabis licenses allotted to them by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, according to their website. The North Bonneville Public Development Authority (NBPDA) was formed on November 12, 2014, followed by the appointment of the board of directors on November 19th.

On their website, North Bonneville states “The mission of the North Bonneville Public Development Authority is to comply with the new laws of the State of Washington through responsible public administration of the impact and influences these changes will bring to the social and economic landscape of our community.”

Recently, the mayor of North Bonneville, Don Stevens, told hemp.com,  “I view [North Bonneville’s approach] as the city being welcoming to the whole idea of recreational marijuana legalization and trying to ensure it’s done as cleanly and professionally and with as much of an eye on the public health and welfare as possible.” He continued.  “The financial aspects of it are certainly part of the equation, but they weren’t the primary factor.”

The revised Code of Washington (RCW) gives local jurisdictions the ability to form the municipal corporations for a variety of reasons. By North Bonneville forming their own PDA to manage the impacts of newly legalized cannabis, the town may avoid many of the challenges other cities are facing.  If it works, North Bonneville’s innovative approach to regulating the sale of cannabis could become a useable model for other towns to follow in Washington State.

Photo Credit: Brett Levin

 

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