Politics

These Towns Aren't Down With Marijuana

The marijuana industry is booming and will be making more than $22 billion by 2020, according to one estimate. The boom has benefited towns that have struggled to keep up with the loss of industries on which they once relied, such as oil or coal.

But for other communities, marijuana still retains the stigma that resulted partly from the War on Drugs. Many small towns have banned marijuana businesses, or tried to.

“While polls show that a growing majority of Americans supports legalizing marijuana, the fact is that a significant number of elected officials came of political age when marijuana was still seen as a third-rail issue," Tom Angell, founder of the nonprofit Marijuana Majority, told ATTN:. "These politicians are still stuck with a ‘Reefer Madness’ mentality, but either they will catch up to where voters are on this issue, or they will be replaced in coming election cycles as challengers with more modern views step up.”

Paul Armentano, deputy director of the marijuana advocacy group NORML, told ATTN: that he believes local bans are counterproductive. "Contrary to their alleged intent, they do nothing to halt cannabis commerce; they simply force it underground abdicate control of the market to those who typically operate outside the boundaries of law," he said. "Local regulations, by contrast, allow for lawmakers to establish legal parameters regarding where, when, and how an adult cannabis market may operate."

These are some of the towns that have banned marijuana.

wasilla alaska

Wasilla, Alaska

Sarah Palin's hometown banned marijuana businesses, even though city officials knew there was a risk that banning legal marijuana sales could cause the black market to flourish. The city council decided that marijuana can only be consumed on private property, and it can't be sold anywhere within the town's limits. Though marijuana is completely legal in Alaska, Wasilla felt that marijuana businesses would be a detriment to their community, even though it's benefited many other communities.

hotchkiss colorado

Hotchkiss, Colo.

Hotchkiss is a great example of a town that initially banned marijuana businesses but is now having second thoughts. Hotchkiss was long a coal-mining town, but that industry has been failing the community lately. Town leaders will take up the marijuana issue again this month and reconsider whether weed businesses should be allowed. Hotchkiss initially cited public safety and property values as reasons to avoid the marijuana business, but now officials there are realizing how many jobs might be created and the tax revenue that might be generated.

washington dc

Washington, D.C.

District of Columbia voters legalized marijuana in 2014, but the city has had a hard time figuring out what to do since then. Washington currently bans any sale of marijuana within district limits. The city has also banned smoking in all public spaces and in private clubs, bars, hotels and restaurants. The district has had an issue with people smoking anything in public, which has made officials reconsider if smoking in private clubs should be allowed.

san juan capistrano

San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

California hasn't yet legalized marijuana, but it was the first state to pass a medical marijuana law. San Juan Capistrano is not happy with how the marijuana industry is shaping up and earlier this year banned dispensaries, as well as marijuana manufacturing, cultivation, and delivery. There weren't any noticeable problems related to marijuana in town, but it implemented the bans anyway.

Lynden Washington

Lynden City, Wash.

Lynden City has consistently extended a temporary ban on marijuana sales since 2013, and the town is currently considering making the ban permanent. When Washington legalized marijuana in 2012, 69 percent of the town's residents were against it. City officials have often cited Washington's vague weed regulations as the reason for the ban: They want the rules to be clear before they consider allowing marijuana sales.

More conservative citizens and politicians who see marijuana as a danger have attempted to ban it across the country. Whether their fears are realistic is debatable, but it's clear there will continue to be resistance as more states legalize marijuana.