The University Place City Council has approved conditional rules for marijuana sales and processing operations, but declined to consider whether to allow pot businesses in the city.
The council’s reluctance to debate the basic issue effectively kills any immediate prospect of ending the city’s ban on marijuana retailing and production.
The council’s approval Monday of the rules regarding pot operations within the city followed extensive debate by the council and the city’s planning commission about where such operations would be allowed if the city dropped the ban.
In the end, the council approved the conditional regulations just as the planning commission had recommended them. They would allow retail sales only in a small area within the city’s mixed-use zone. Pot production and processing would be allowed only in the city’s light industrial area.
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But the question of pot sales in the city failed to find sponsors among the council when Mayor Javier Figueroa asked whether at least two council members wanted to consider the main question of lifting the ban.
Figueroa said he would put the question on the council’s agenda for consideration if at least two members desired to move forward. No member requested scheduling the matter for debate.
Christy Stanley, the sole business person licensed by the state to sell pot in University Place, said she remains cautiously optimistic about eventual approval of marijuana sales in the city.
In addition to her state license, Stanley would have to obtain city approval to open a sales shop.
“It’s in the city’s best interest to approve the sales,” she said.
Stanley said the pot sales question is politically sensitive, particularly in a year when some council members face an election. Planning commission hearings on the pot sales rules question attracted dozen of opponents who voiced their disapproval of the prospect of cannabis sales.
University Place would realize an estimated tax take of about $70,000 if retail pot sales were allowed, city officials have said.
Other Pierce County cities that banned sales when voters first approved them in recent months have been reconsidering their decisions.
Marijuana retailers are tightly policed by the state. Cities that have allowed pot sales say they haven’t seen the escalation of criminal activity near those shops that they had feared.