Skip to main content

Originally published March 19, 2014 at 9:09 PM | Page modified March 19, 2014 at 10:14 PM

  • Share:
  • Comments (56)
  • Print

Bellevue council to consider banning recreational-pot merchants

Bellevue voters were strongly in favor of legal pot, but the City Council will consider banning state-licensed pot merchants in light of Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s opinion that cities can block the new industry.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
With the vast majority of Bellevue voters opting for legalization, the Council should... MORE
Prohibition insanity is still alive and well in Bellevue WA. Outrageous that elected... MORE
I'm sure this will keep weed out of the hands of all of those entitled middle school an... MORE


Bellevue, where 59 percent of the electorate voted for Initiative 502, is considering banning recreational-pot businesses in light of state Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s advisory opinion that cities and counties can block the new legal industry.

Bellevue’s City Council had already debated legal pot businesses last year and decided to move ahead with “emergency interim” regulations that would allow state-licensed growers, processors and retailers, but restrict where in the city they could locate.

But at a Monday night meeting, the seven council members extended the interim regulations, due to expire next month, for another six months. Then they directed staff to prepare information on a possible ban of legal pot businesses for them to consider.

Council member Conrad Lee said the city’s tolerant attitude “troubled” him. Kevin Wallace said he didn’t think a ban was considered during the council’s deliberations last year, but that Ferguson’s opinion now made that a viable option. Wallace said he’d like the chance to vote on an outright ban. New member Lynne Robinson, elected in November, said Bellevue is “not the place to manufacture or sell marijuana” and that she would disallow legal pot merchants if she could.

John Chelminiak may be the swing vote, as Councilmembers Claudia Balducci, Jennifer Robertson and John Stokes indicated they opposed a ban.

Chelminiak said he isn’t sure a ban “is the right thing to do” but said he wanted to discuss it further.

Balducci said a ban would be “shortsighted” and would push problems “over the border but not away.” Robertson said “we need to recognize the will of the voters.” And Stokes said he didn’t think prohibition works and that it would be good to bring the illicit pot market out of alleyways and control it. The city might as well ban alcohol if it was going to outlaw legal pot businesses, he said.

During a one-month window for entrepreneurs to seek licenses, state officials received 22 producer, 13 processor and 56 retail applications for Bellevue. Officials had allocated four of the proposed 334 statewide retail stores to Bellevue. Because of the glut, it’s expected the four retail winners in Bellevue would be decided by a lottery.

If the council is going to ban legal pot businesses, it will want to move quickly. The state could license legal pot merchants in Bellevue any day now. They wouldn’t be subject to a subsequent ban and would be legally grandfathered in, Robertson said.

The council called for consideration of a ban “as soon as the calendar allows.”

Balducci, who serves as mayor, said a ban would frustrate her because changing course and revisiting an issue that seemed to have been decided would “gum up” the council’s work plan for the state’s fifth-largest city.

Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or

On Twitter: @potreporter

Four weeks for 99 cents of unlimited digital access to The Seattle Times. Try it now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Time to add another piece to your Hawks collection

Time to add another piece to your Hawks collection

Check out the full lineup of championship merchandise from The Seattle Times store.


Partner Video


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►