Benton County commissioners place emergency ban on marijuana

Benton County commissioners place emergency ban on marijuana

Benton County commissioners placed a temporary ban on all new incoming marijuana production and processing facilities Tuesday morning.

The ban will remain in place for six months while Benton County commissioners evaluate any potential changes they may want to make to current regulations.

Commissioners are considering two choices while they have the temporary ban in place. They will either make the prohibition permanent or develop specific zoning criteria that would allow marijuana production to continue.

The ban will cover agricultural land in and around Finley, where authorities have discovered a high concentration of illegal grow operations.

Existing marijuana businesses will be able to carry out business as normal. New grow facilities will be put on hold.

The decision comes after outraged community members presented over three hours of emotional testimony to county commissioners on Oct. 31, criticizing marijuana regulations in West Richland and the Finley area.

Many said dispensaries like Green2Go in Finley attract heavy traffic daily but do not provide public restrooms to customers.

“We have derelicts taking a crap in people’s yards because there are no restrooms,” Finley resident Brina Holden said to commissioner Jerome Delvin.

Others said outdoor marijuana grows, which operate separately from dispensaries, hurt the air quality.

“This girl right here has severe asthma on top of the marijuana and it’s getting worse,” said one Finley parent while pointing to her younger daughter in front of commissioners.

Citizens have advocating against marijuana in Benton County for months, petitioning and protesting with hopes to ban it for good.

The next public hearing will take place Friday Dec.8.