Zillah planners say no to pot sales; could change mind if feds legalize

ZILLAH, Wash. -- Zillah is set to say no to stores selling pot. But, the decision could change if there's a switch in the other Washington. KIMA asked the mayor whether Zillah should take its own stand.

When it comes to recreational pot businesses, Zillah's walking the fence. City planners are looking to recommend they stay out. The decision is based on the fact that pot's illegal under federal law. But, if the feds change their mind, Zillah could too.

KIMA asked Zillah's mayor, "Don't you think that Zillah should, for the sake of clarity, for residents, take a more firm stand one way or another on this issue, than just kicking the can down the road and relying on the federal government to make its decision?"

"If we were to be responsible to the public, no, we should not necessarily kick the can down the road, but hold the can until a decision is made," said Gary Clark.

He says most Zillah residents are against pot businesses. But, worries an outright ban could expose the city to lawsuits by pot entrepreneurs. The Justice Department has said won't it stand in the way of legalized marijuana in Washington.

KIMA asked Clark, "Why, if the federal government doesn't seem to have a problem with regimes that allow recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington, why are you relying on the federal government in the ordinance to prohibit the sale, growing and processing in Zillah?"

"Key word there is federal government," said Clark. "We never know what they're going to do."

Clark cites a recent decision by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation to shut off irrigation water to local pot growers as an example. Neighbors have their own worries about pot stores.

"There are younger kids out here," said Raymond Walker. "They'll get it one way or the other."

But, Peter Scoville sees it differently. He recently had back surgery to remove cancer. He says access to pot might help ease his pain. And, that the voters of Washington have already spoken.

"I think the choice should be up to the citizens, rather than than city council."

Zillah city leaders are expected to make a decision in a matter of weeks.

There has been only on applicant for a retail store in Zillah. The address on the application belongs to Planning Commission Chair Jay Spurlock. We left several messages for Spurlock, but didn't hear from him. KIMA could not confirm he is the applicant or whether someone else is using his address. However, Spurlock recused himself from all discussions about the ordinance citing a conflict of interest.