Where would we be allowed to open marijuana shops in Pasco?

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The Pasco city government is working on a plan to allow retail marijuana stores in three areas of the city.

Now that Pasco City Council has started turning parts for partial lifting a ban on the retail sale of cannabis, where can these shops be allowed?

Here’s what we know so far:

Where will pot shops be allowed?

Washington State Law already prohibits cannabis manufacturing and processing centers and stores within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, public parks, libraries, daycare centers, or public transportation hubs.

Pasco plans to draft an ordinance that would allow the retail sale of marijuana in three areas designated for industrial use — light, medium and heavy industrial.

In total, these territories within the city cover 8,100 hectares. They are mostly east of 20th Avenue, said Rick White, Pasco’s director of community and economic development.

Some of the zones can be found along South Oregon Avenue, East Ainsworth Avenue and at the intersection of Ainsworth and Kings Corner.

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This map of the city of Pasco shows the no-marijuana zones and their buffer zones. These areas include schools and parks. Recreational cannabis retail stores will not be allowed to operate in these areas. Courtesy of the City of Pasco

Why industrial zones?

Much of the area surrounding East Pasco and downtown Pasco is also zoned for light and medium industrial companies.

These properties are commonly used in industries such as trucking, food processing, lumber, gravel pits, bottling and ice production, landfills, and welding shops.

The Tri-Cities Airport and the Port of Pasco are also in industrial zones.

In short, these are economic things that are “pretty nasty,” so they have their own zone designation, White explained.

“They have a lot of truck traffic, a lot of noise. Sometimes smells,” he said.

Therefore, industrial zones are deliberately separated from residential ones.

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Steve Helber AP

How many stores can there be?

In addition to location restrictions, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board limits the amount of licenses for the retail sale of cannabis was allowed to open in cities and counties.

Due to its size, Pasco will be limited to just four stores.

However, some Pasco council members have said they want to limit the number of pot shops to a maximum of two.

What other permits are needed?

Pasco is also expected to require retailers to obtain a special use permit before they can apply for a business license.

And that means turning to the city expert, who decides whether permission has been granted.

They are required from companies or property owners in the part of the city that may be affected by the activity.

These permits are often required for businesses such as nightclubs, churches, schools, and event centers. White said they receive 15 to 25 applications each year.

Simply put, special use permits relate to specific uses in specific locations.

In most cases, a business can apply for a business license, get a permit, and open storefronts fairly quickly — but not under special use permits that require notification of nearby property owners.

In the case of a nightclub, White says, a hearing expert can consider hours of operation, potential noise, parking requirements and safety issues.

Applicants and property owners may also appeal the examiner’s decision to the Franklin County Superior Court.

What’s next?

Following a recent 4-3 Pasco council vote, city staff will draft an ordinance on possible zoning and regulations for cannabis stores.

The ordinance will return to the City Council in the coming weeks or months for a vote.

If passed, the decree will take effect in seven to nine days.

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Prosser’s Altitude remains the area’s only retail marijuana store within city limits.

Cannabis Shops in the Tri-Cities

Except for Prosser, all cities in Benton and Franklin counties prohibit the retail sale of cannabis.

And there are only two dispensaries in the Tri-Cities area: Nirvana Cannabis Company and Green2Go.

Both are unincorporated in Benton County. Nirvana is just outside the West Richland city limits, and Green2Go is in Finley, near Kennewick.

Prosser has Altitude on Merlot Drive. Another dispensary, The Bake Shop, is located along Griffin Road in unincorporated Benton County.

This story was originally published January 19, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.

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Eric Rosen is a civil liability reporter who joined the Tri-City Herald in February 2022. He previously worked for the Daily Chronicle in Lewis County, covering education, county government and the Legislature. In 2018, he graduated from Central Washington University.

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