County commissioners ban on all future pot shops
BENTON COUNTY, Wash. — After months of conversation a decision was made on the new cannabis shop in West Richland.
The shop is across the street from a school bus stop, and less than a mile from a child care center. Many neighbors have fought for months over the shop and now the county has also decided the fate for future retail marijuana shops in Benton County as well.
“We don’t want pot in this county, that’s pretty clear and this is the first step the commissioners are taking in that process,” Richland resident Bill Berkman said.
Berkman, sat alongside his neighbors Tuesday morning at the county courthouse in Prosser watching Benton County commissioners make a final decision, ultimately banning all future retail marijuana shops from entering Benton County.
The board listened to over an hour of public comments.
“I think this ban is a good first step for our county to stop further retail cannabis shops from popping up,” Berkman continued.
The decision was sparked from outrage over this shop on county land in West Richland back in June. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis board granted a license to The Garden LLC, of Spokane, to open Nirvana Cannabis.
“Not in our neighborhood thank you,” a West Richland mother said.
Some parents and teachers are concerned about the new shop, but others vocalized their support for the shop on Facebook today and criticized the county’s new ban. Most people on Facebook were arguing that cannabis shops bring in needed tax dollars, others also shared their concern for those with medical needs who might fall by the wayside.
But Berkman and many others said in this case, the Nirvana Cannabis shop did not properly follow requirements to alert neighbors of its license application.
“There’s photographic evidence that they used the side window of the home which means it was not readily accessible to the public,” Berkman added.
The state found that the new shop is legal, therefore allowing The Garden LLC to continue to build in West Richland, however, with Benton County’s new ban it will be up to cities to decide if new marijuana retailers sprout up.
“The good news is all of these licenses must be renewed annually so the next step is to start objecting to renewals,” Berkman concluded.
Berkman and community members are still asking the state to reopen the investigation into the new shop. Our news team and the county commissioners have both been unsuccessful in making contact with the Nirvana Cannabis shop owners.