Community leaders working to roll out retail marijuana stores

SPOKANE, Wash. - Legal Weed vo

Marijuana sales are on their way to Spokane but before the first pot store opens, a group of community leaders is working to help roll them out.

Basically they want to help these new businesses grow while taking those with anti-legal weed opinions into consideration. They say marijuana is here to stay so let's start dealing with it now.

A room full of community members meeting first thing on Monday morning may not be your idea of a marijuana-focused crowd, but this one is.

"We need to embrace this. This is here. This is the reality," Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan said.

Spokane's first marijuana policy subcommittee met Monday and included everyone from members of the city council to county commissioners, the health district and medical marijuana dispensary owners.

"And try and come up with best practices as we enter into a new policy arena that is unlike any other in the world," Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder said.

Their goal is to have a plan moving forward. Any ideas would have to go through city council before becoming law, but this group will make recommendations to city leaders on topics like restrictions on marijuana advertising and regulations on pot tourism.

"We want to get rid of the black market but we also want to be very sensitive to the concerns about youth consumption, concerns about addiction, all the different public safety concerns," Snyder said.

Several concerns were voiced during Monday's meeting; for example the health district worries youth consumption is too high. A study shows teens are using pot twice as much as tobacco. Also, the ACLU wants cities to focus on educating school-children.

On the other side of the table, Sean Green owns Pacific Northwest Medical, a medical marijuana dispensary, and could open a retail pot shop. He says it's refreshing to be heard and to be part of that crowd keeping Spokane residents' best interests in mind.

"It will be very useful on a monthly basis to make adjustments to the overall system as it's rolling out. From both perspectives, from the public health perspective and from the industry perspective," Green said.

Snyder said even though cities can now ban marijuana sales Spokane will not. No one on the city council is considering it as they see a lot of benefit from tax revenue of future pot sales.