The Spokane City Council voted Monday night to have city elections officials count the signatures submitted for two initiatives to see if they’re eligible for the ballot.
One measure would forbid marijuana retail shops from opening less than a thousand feet from certain entities, such as schools and churches. About a dozen people spoke in favor of sending the initiative to the ballot.
Susan Bacon collected signatures for it. She says some people who signed it see it as a public safety measure, protecting children from the influence of marijuana. Others see it as a pro-business move.
“I remember one encounter very well. It was with a property assessor who was very concerned about falling property values in downtown Spokane, due to the aroma of weed in downtown tourist areas. He’s an assessor for the downtown area. He’s concerned. He told me that," Bacon said.
"On the other side of the spectrum was a woman who refused to sign the petition, but said that ever since her son had started smoking weed, his drive was completely gone. And now he just sits around all day and it makes her sad,” she said.
The other measure would regulate railroad car owners. It would prohibit them from allowing their containers to carry flammable oil and uncovered coal through parts of Spokane where an accident could create a local hazard. It’s similar to an initiative supported last year by the council, but abandoned after city lawyers cast doubt on its legality.
Many of those who spoke for the pot initiative spoke against the rail prohibition measure. The lone voice in support was that of the sponsor, Todd Eklof.
“This really did come from the citizens that we had lots of signatures from voters saying, yes, we want to vote on this. We want to give our neighbors the opportunity to vote on it,” Eklof said.
Supporters believe this measure will pass some of the legal hurdles the previous measure could not. Opponents say it would immediately face a legal challenge.