Cities looking to make green on retail pot business

WHITE SALMON, Wash. -- A small town in southwest Washington wants to get into the pot business in an attempt to bolster its bottom line.

The park-n-ride parking lot along Highway 14 is where city officials say they'd open a city-owned pot retail store. The White Salmon City Council shot down the idea on Monday night but there are some residents that hope the council will reconsider

“If they’re going to be there, at least let’s use the money to the public advantage,” Mayor David Poucher said.

Only a few thousand people live in White Salmon. It’s a small community living in the shadow of Mount Hood on the Oregon border. Like most small towns, White Salmon is looking for ways to put money in the bank.

“We lost the liquor tax money, we lost the car tax money, we lost a lot of different things,” Poucher said.

Klickitat County will be getting a total of four retail pot licenses and Poucher says that's a perfect opportunity to raise cash for the city.

“Funding police department, the fire department, and public health,” said Poucher. “There’s no addiction control, there isn’t any rehab or anything else in this part of the county, and this would have been an opportunity to do it.”

It would cost around $10,000 to get the thing up and running, and there's no guarantee the city fathers would win the permit. But the mayor knows there's a potentially huge customer base not far away.

“I think there’s a lot of people on the Oregon side that have friends in Washington,” said Poucher.

But not everyone in town wants the city to be the local marijuana dealer.

“I still don’t see where it boils down to the responsibility of the city,” said resident Richard Johnson.

“I think that shows that our community is open-minded,” said mother Amy Hayes.  “The fact that the City Council voted a tie, that was kind of surprising to me and I think that’s good. I think people are taking a little time to process it, but I think we’re moving faster than most parts of the state."

But White Salmon isn’t alone. The city of North Bonneville is also planning to apply for its own permit.

The City Council in White Salmon meets again next week where they could vote on the proposal all over again.