Wash. town will discuss selling marijuana to ease budget crunch

WHITE SALMON, Wash. - Never let it be said White Salmon is slow to adapt.

The tiny S.W. Washington city is considering making the transition from arresting people for selling marijuana to selling pot itself.

The city council was scheduled to discuss doing so at a meeting Monday morning, said Mayor David Poucher. It would likely be competing for a license with private interests.

"I think that it's an idea that is absolutely worth investigating. 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 it's not his decision to make - the final call belongs to the city council. He said he expects a decision to be made in the next 10 days.

In the meantime, White Salmon will gather as much information as possible. Even filling out the application - a process Poucher estimated will cost $10,000-$15,000 - is daunting.

Worse, there's no guarantee the city will be granted a license if it applies.

Poucher said that, if the city does end up getting into the pot business, he foresees using 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'd like 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."