State hands out pot retail licenses, city says not so fast

State hands out pot retail licenses, city says not so fast
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- KEPR is continuing to cover the issue of legalized pot. Retail sales could begin next month, but not here. Just last week, some people were told they were first in line to get a license to sell pot in Kennewick, but the city says, "Not so fast." KEPR has the latest on when we can expect to see pot stores in our region.

In some parts of our state, a pot shop could open up next to your favorite coffee shop by mid-summer. But that's most likely not the case here. Moratoriums are in place in all three cities until fall. Five people in Kennewick recently learned they could be granted a retail license to sell marijuana. But they'll have to wait.

"None qualified in Richland, so that gives us a little bit more time now, takes the pressure off to be able to get the zoning and everything down right," said Richland Mayor Dave Rose.

Rose says the city hasn't had a workshop about the issue in the past couple months. But they have one coming up, and he hopes to accomplish a lot.

"We're not going to get it right at first, I don't expect to," he said. "I think it's going to take a couple times before we get it right."

Kennewick Mayor Pro Tem Don Britain was blunt, calling the issue a "mess."

"It's very frustrating," he said. "It would be nice to have specific guidelines."

Kennewick's mayor pro tem speaks on behalf of City Council. He says their views are pretty consistent. But it's a different story over in Richland. The mayor says his views are his own and the council is split.

"I believe that it's up to elected officials to take this law and try to implement it the best way we can," said Rose.

But Britain is concerned about the taxpayers and our local law enforcement. He doesn't think the revenue brought in by pot sales would come close to covering the cost caused by pot abuse.

"There's aftermath, just as in alcohol abuse, and our local law enforcement and jails and emergency services have to deal with that, and those are paid for by taxpayer money," said Britain.

Both cities say they will continue to explore issues regarding the legalization of pot. But, in the meantime, those pot shops will have to wait.

Come October, Kennewick and Richland will either need to move forward with regulating pot, ban it altogether or ask for another moratorium. Pasco leaders never returned our calls on where they stand on the issue.