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Bellevue City Council to allow pot sales in city

The effort to stop marijuana sales in Bellevue has been snuffed out after the City Council voted Monday night against banning legal pot businesses.

Councilmembers had been considering a moratorium or outright ban on marijuana retailers after state Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued an advisory opinion that cities could block the new legal industry.

But Councilmember Kevin Wallace’s proposal for a six-month moratorium garnered just one other vote, while the five other council members voted to allow legal pot businesses to operate in the state’s fifth largest city, the Seattle Times reports.

59 percent of voters in Bellevue cast a yes vote for Initiative 502, which legalized the growing and selling of marijuana in the state. “We should respect the will of the voters,” Councilmember Jennifer Roberts said.

Marijuana businesses still face potential problems in the city. Bellevue now has interim regulations in place restricting where in the city they can operate. Those rules seem to conflict with state rules, because the city requires pot businesses be separated by 1,000 feet. But the recent state lottery to determine who gets to open retail outlets selected two winners closer than 1,000 feet to each other, the Times reports.

The state Liquor Control Board is currently vetting lottery winners to determine if they qualify for one of the coveted pot retail licenses. But the LCB has said while it will not deny licenses based on local rules, cities will be enforcing their own laws.

The state has said it expects to start issuing retail licenses by early July.

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