Following protests earlier this year outside a downtown marijuana retailer, former state Rep. John Ahern is seeking to ban pot sales near churches.
Ahern, who ran unsuccessfully to unseat City Council President Ben Stuckart last year, has authored an initiative that would grant houses of worship and health care facilities the same 1,000-foot buffer zone from marijuana businesses that applies to schools, libraries and public parks.
The City Council on Monday sent Ahern’s proposal to the Spokane hearing examiner for legal review, declining to put the issue before voters themselves. Stuckart has said he won’t restrict marijuana businesses from operating in the downtown core, and doesn’t believe the City Council would approve such a ban.
Brian McGinn, the hearing examiner, already ruled that an earlier draft of Ahern’s initiative would be legally defensible if passed by voters. Ahern revised the initiative to apply specifically to churches “that have children facilities.” McGinn will rule on the legality of the new proposal within 14 days, and Ahern would then be required to collect signatures of registered city voters to get the question before voters.
Ahern had helped organize protests outside of Lucky Leaf, a downtown marijuana retailer a few blocks from Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral. Lucky Leaf sold nearly $210,000 worth of marijuana at its location on First Avenue in August, according to Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board figures.
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