The City of Kent Just Won’t Say Yes to Cannabis

In a relatively unsurprising turn of events, the city of Kent has yet again made clear that it won’t stand for cannabis. Despite the fact that the citizens of Washington State (and quite a few citizens of Kent), voted to legalize marijuana, Kent will not allow licensed cannabis facilities to operate within its city limits. Just as Kent made a significant (and expensive) mistake trying to oust medical cannabis from its borders, it is poised to try again with recreational cannabis. One thing is certain: The City of Kent does not mind spending/wasting its taxpayers’ money on fighting against popular state laws.

Tom Brubaker, Kent’s interim chief administrative officer, claims that “[i]f [Kent does] nothing with our existing laws on the books, recreational marijuana is most like our medical marijuana code,” and that “[in the city’s] opinion the net result is since medical marijuana is banned so are all forms of recreational marijuana. If they come to [Kent], they will not be allowed in the city.”

However, the new recreational industry has an ally in Kent council president, Dennis Higgins. Higgins, who voted against the MMJ ban, favored zoning for recreational cannabis operations. Higgins rightly warned the council that “[i]f we don’t plan for this and zone, we’re going to have more problems with the policing issue . . . [t]en years from now this is all going to look like a waste of time. We need to get ahead of this.”

Kent plans to tell potential cannabis licensees that they are not allowed to operate within city limits. According to Kent, those licensees could then appeal that blanket decision to the city’s hearing examiner. In other words, everyone is invited to partake in another unnecessary, costly, and time-consuming lawsuit for the city and potential stakeholders.

Though Kent probably won’t be the last city to set up barricades against cannabis, it is certainly the first to do so with such gusto and firm conviction. Kent’s refusal to abide by the will of the people and to follow state law will likely again land the city in court on the wrong side of “the vee,” with Kent taxpayers once again left holding the bag (again).