The city continues its move toward a permanent ban on growing, processing and selling marijuana for recreational and medical use.
A draft of the ban went before the Lynden Planning Commission on Thursday, Jan. 28, and the panel recommended approval.
The measure is expected to go before the City Council in March, where it likely will be approved given that Lynden leaders have OK’d and then extended a temporary moratorium on pot businesses since Sept. 16, 2013.
Mayor Scott Korthuis said the ban was in keeping with residents’ views. About 69 percent of Lynden’s voters opposed Initiative 502, which legalized recreational pot in Washington.
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“We feel our constituents feel the same way we do about keeping pot out of Lynden,” Korthuis said. “This reflects the values of our town.”
Lynden leaders said they don’t want to violate federal drug policy, under which marijuana remains illegal.
The city would be the second municipality in Whatcom County to ban pot businesses. Everson did so in September.
Leaders for both cities have said they approved the temporary moratoriums because they wanted to see how regulations and legal challenges worked out as the state enacted the new recreational pot industry.
The state Attorney General’s Office has issued an opinion that nothing in I-502 prevented local governments from banning or otherwise regulating marijuana businesses, and municipalities that have banned recreational pot have won legal challenges in court.
That gave the cities the legal confidence to move toward a permanent ban.
Lynden leaders also said they don’t want to violate federal drug policy, under which marijuana remains illegal.
Korthuis said Lynden wasn’t swayed by tax dollars that would come back to the city if pot were allowed.
Whatcom County, Blaine and Bellingham are expected to get a combined $267,396 in annual marijuana tax revenue now that the state has decided to share. The amounts are based on taxable sales.
“It’s not a significant number,” Korthuis said of the money being returned to participating governments.
Meanwhile, the City Council will take up extending Lynden’s six-month moratorium for the sixth time at its meeting on Monday, Feb. 1.
That would be a stopgap until the council can take up the ban, which also comes as the state is working to regulate medical marijuana and fold it into the recreational pot industry.