White Salmon decides against selling marijuana to ease budget crunch

WHITE SALMON, Wash. - The tiny Southwest Washington city of White Salmon won't be selling pot after all.

The city council voted on doing so at a meeting Monday morning, said Mayor David Poucher, with the vote coming out a 2-2 tie - meaning the city will not pursue a license.

It will, however, allow private interests to lease the land under consideration.

The city had decided the idea was at least worth discussing.

"I think that it's an idea that is absolutely worth investigating," Poucher said Sunday. "I still think we need a lot more information before we make a decision yes or no."

The idea came into focus after North Bonneville, which is 30 miles east of White Salmon, had a similar discussion.

Poucher said that, while he voted against legalizing marijuana in Washington, the city could use the cash. White Salmon has lost $60,000 in tax revenue since the state got of the business of selling liquor.

"I'm not in favor of including another intoxicant into society, so I'm not really a big fan of it," he said. "But at the same time, I was looking at it and saying wow, if you're going to have it, can we make money with it? Can the city make money with it?"

Poucher said the decision wasn't his to make - the final call belonged to the city council.

Even filling out the application - a process Poucher estimated would cost $10,000-$15,000 - would have been daunting.

Worse, there was no guarantee the city would be granted a license if it applied.

Poucher said Sunday he planned to use the money to mitigate problems he expects legalization to bring.

"We would put it strictly toward our police and fire department," he said. "We think having the marijuana initiative is going to create some problems.

"I don't know if it's going to bring people breaking the law, but it's going to bring way more people into the community. And I think when you start doing something like that, you're going to have underage people who are going to be wanting to do this, and we are going to be cracking down on that."

Specifically, Poucher said he would have liked to add one more police officer to the city's force and create some breathing room in the general fund.

White Salmon might end up being uniquely in need of the money, Poucher said.

"We are a border town," he said. "We are very close to Portland. We have an awful lot of young individuals that like to recreate in the area. We have an awfully big wind-surfing population in the summertime and I think that there's a lot of that population that probably uses (marijuana) - I'm just guessing."