DuPont council approves ban on marijuana sales in city

The DuPont City Council voted to ban the sale, production and processing of recreational and medicinal marijuana Tuesday, joining Fife in banning pot on the first day it became legal to purchase it in the state.

The vote in DuPont was unanimous, according to Mayor Michael Grayum whose administration proposed the ban. Typically the council does a first reading of an ordinance then waits for its next meeting to do a second reading before taking a vote. But at the meeting Tuesday Grayum gave the council the option to do the first and second reading and vote all at once. The council supported that idea, he said.

The city has had a moratorium banning recreational and medicinal marijuana sales in the city since September 2013. Because the issue isn’t new to the council, members felt comfortable voting Tuesday night, Grayum said. Before the vote, Councilman Michael Gorski noted the majority of DuPont voters were against decriminalizing marijuana in 2012 when the state passed Initiative 502.

Concern about public safety and the effect recreational marijuana sales could have on the city were just some of the reasons Grayum proposed the ban. The state would see most of the revenue from pot sales but the responsibility of enforcement would fall to local police. DuPont leaders felt it would be easier to manage the impact if marijuana sales were kept out of the city of just more than 9,000 people, Grayum said.

“We still respect people’s personal choice of this, but it’s not something we’re going to allow to be sold or access to be increased in the community,” he said Wednesday.

The timing of the vote was not planned to coincide with the first day retail marijuana stores opened in the state, Councilman Mike Courts said earlier this week. Courts supported the ban for a number of reasons, he said, including the city’s proximity to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the large number of people who live in the city who are active duty military.

“We have such a high percentage of our population that is subject to direct federal oversight that we’re sensitive to that,” Courts said Monday. “We have a very family-oriented community in DuPont.”

While it is now illegal to sell, grow or process recreational and medicinal marijuana in DuPont under the new ordinance, the ban does not affect people’s ability to use recreational marijuana legally in their homes.

“If you want to buy marijuana and use it at your home in an appropriate manner, that’s strictly your business, we’re not going to stop you from doing that,” Courts said.