OLYMPIA — A House panel approved what it described as both a carrot and a stick for local governments that are reluctant to approve new marijuana businesses that have been licensed by the state.
In a 9-0 vote, the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee approved a proposal that would send some of the tax money collected from recreational marijuana businesses back to the city or county where the business is licensed. It also adds language to state law that says state law pre-empts local ordinances on recreational marijuana.
A few cities have approved complete bans on recreational marijuana businesses, and dozens more have passed moratoria on approving them while certain issues are studied. That could set up a scenario where the drug can be purchased legally at state regulated stores by adults in one community, but onlly on the black marked in a neighboring community, Committee Chairman Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, said.
“Initiative 502 won't work unless it works everywhere,” said Hurst, referring to the ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana for adults in 2012. “The voters have spoken…This is about making it work.”
It's likely not the last change the law will need, he added. The bill now heads for the House Finance Committee because of changes in the way taxes are distributed. If it is approved there, it goes to the full House.
Later today, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee holds hearings on a pair of bills that try to merge the recreational marijuana system with the medical marijuana system which was set up by a different initiative in 1998.