Clark County Council poised to hold work session on marijuana

The sale and production of marijuana has been illegal in Clark County since a moratorium was passed in 2014

VANCOUVER — The Clark County Council will hold a work session at 5 p.m. Wed., May 30, regarding marijuana and the current moratorium banning business establishments in unincorporated Clark County, according to a meeting notice on the county’s website.

The Clark County Council is scheduled to discuss marijuana in a work session May 30 at the Public Service Center in Vancouver. Photo by Eric Schwartz
The Clark County Council is scheduled to discuss marijuana in a work session May 30 at the Public Service Center in Vancouver. Photo by Eric Schwartz

“The purpose of the work session will be to hear from a variety of experts and stakeholders regarding cannabis to help the County Council evaluate the current moratorium on cannabis establishments in unincorporated Clark County,” according to the special meeting notice. “The meeting will be open to the public and will include an opportunity for general public comment on the topic of cannabis in unincorporated Clark County.”

The meeting will be held in the sixth-floor hearing room of the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver.

The sale and production of marijuana has been banned via a moratorium passed by the Clark County Council in 2014, a move that was in line with the state Attorney General’s assessment that local jurisdictions could restrict cannabis establishments despite the product being legal at the state level.

The Clark County Council as it currently exists seems likely to keep the moratorium in place, but opponents of expanded marijuana operations told last month they fear the November general election could change the makeup of the council in a way that could perhaps result in the lifting of the ban.

One of those opponents, Clark County resident Dan Duringer, said in an email to fellow anti-marijuana advocates this week that that their voices must be heard at the upcoming work session.

“It’s important that the five councilors hear from you,” he wrote. “One councilor, John Blom (R), has spoken favorably of bringing marijuana industry into the unincorporated county and another, Julie Olson (R), says she’s undecided.  While Councilors (Marc) Boldt, (Jeanne) Stewart and (Eileen) Quiring are all opposed, come November the council composition could lean pro pot due to District 1 election dynamics. We need Blom and Olson to feel political heat on any pro pot or indecisive stance.”

Duringer said previously the election of Democrat Jim Moeller, who is pursuing the seat held by Stewart, could swing the momentum as he has made statements in favor of lifting the ban.

Currently, marijuana sales and production are legal in the cities of Battle Ground and Vancouver.

Duringer wrote that there will be three marijuana industry proponents at the table for the work session. He said Dr. Phillip Drum of Parents Opposed to Pot and Clark County’s Drug Task Force will also take part.

Calls to Clark County Chair Marc Boldt and Senior Police Assistant Lindsey Shafar of the County Manager’s Office were not immediately returned Monday morning.

Clark County’s ban on marijuana operations has been upheld by the state court of appeals following a challenge by a business.

Opponents of the ban say the county is losing out on potential tax revenue. In 2017, the city of Vancouver received $524,791 in tax revenue from the sale of marijuana. Battle Ground received more than $25,000. Opponents have also said the moratorium has little impact since the substance is legal by state standards and is openly sold in neighboring jurisdictions.

Supporters of the ban point to research they say shows it’s a danger to public health, safety and children, among other concerns.

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