Cannabis discussion moves ahead in Clark County

Council will hold public meeting, though ban unlikely to change

VANCOUVER — The conversation over unincorporated Clark County’s ban on marijuana businesses may not be dead after all.

At a Wednesday morning meeting, council members decided to proceed with holding a hearing on the issue, though it’s unclear when that would happen.

A work session was held last January, and a public meeting was expected to happen sometime in February. But County Chair Marc Boldt decided to hold off after receiving pushback from a number of local groups, including the Salvation Army, local law enforcement, and children’s groups.

Clark County Councilor John Blom, shown here in this file photo, is one of two councilors who are in favor of a public meeting to discuss Clark County’s ban on marijuana businesses. Councilor Julie Olson shares Blom’s position on the issue. Photo by Mike Schultz
Clark County Councilor John Blom, shown here in this file photo, is one of two councilors who are in favor of a public meeting to discuss Clark County’s ban on marijuana businesses. Councilor Julie Olson shares Blom’s position on the issue. Photo by Mike Schultz

Councilor John Blom was missing from that work session, and has pushed to bring the meeting back onto the agenda. This would not be a full public hearing on the issue.

“I think at a public hearing there’s a proposed code change on the table,” said Blom. “At a public meeting, it would be just an opportunity to hear input on the subject in general, and I would be supportive of that.”

Supporting Blom is Councilor Julie Olson.

“There were a lot of questions that came up in the last work session that nobody had answers to,” Olson said, “so I think to get the realistic view of what’s happening on the ground is reasonable.”

Blom has indicated he is in favor of overturning the ban. Olson is in favor of holding a hearing about the issue, but has not given an indication about whether she would support repealing the moratorium. The other three council members have indicated they’re in favor of upholding the 2014 moratorium, but none spoke against the idea of holding another work session and public meeting.

“It is the impact on humans that I’d be interested in being as fully aware of as possible,” said Councilor Jeanne Stewart, who also wondered if there might be any reports the council could hear about the changing potency of current cannabis strains compared to those popular in the 1960’s. Councilor Eileen Quiring agreed.

“If we were to have any kind of a hearing I would ask that Dr. (Alan) Melnick (Clark County Public Health Officer) look at that,” she said, “as well as many reports that I’ve had in my emails, and even one that was posted on Facebook this morning, about the detrimental effects of marijuana. The current type of marijuana.”

The council instructed staff to put together a list of potential participants for the meeting, including the Liquor Cannabis Board, law enforcement from Vancouver and Clark County, local marijuana industry representatives, and possibly the Office of Financial Management and the county Budget Office. The public would also be given an opportunity to weigh in at that time.

ClarkCountyToday.com will update this story as soon as a date for the meeting is set.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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