SEATTLE (Reuters) - A small town in southern Washington on Saturday opened the state’s first recreational marijuana store that is both owned and operated by the local government, officials said.
Cannabis Corner in North Bonneville, home to about 1,000 people on the Columbia River Gorge, will sell a range of marijuana products with all profits going back to the local community, city leaders said.
“It’s a really great solution for these small, rural communities that need to raise a little bit of revenue,” said Robyn Legun, general manager of Cannabis Corner.
“I think it’s a really viable option for other towns and cities like this,” she said.
Washington and Colorado were the first two U.S. states to legalize recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 under 2012 voter initiatives.
In Washington, retail cannabis stores are regulated by the State Liquor Control Board under a heavily taxed and closely monitored system.
North Bonneville hatched plans for the retail outlet in 2013, creating a public development authority to work through the permitting process and raise private money to build the new store, city officials said.
The city has no schools in its boundaries and constructed the store away from parks or other areas populated by children, as required by state law.
Cannabis Corner’s employees hope the store will become another reason to visit the city, whose major industry for years was timber but now relies heavily on tourists who come to the region to hike, camp, windsurf and kitesurf.
“We hope to get a lot of folks from all over the place coming into the store and stopping by to visit,” Legun said.
But its debut has been met with skepticism by some local officials.
Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown told the Seattle Times he was concerned about a possible uptick in crime and in a surge of use and possession by minors.
Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Stephen Powell