WENATCHEE — The City Council on Thursday voted to extend allowed operating hours for marijuana stores to 8 a.m. to midnight.
Currently Wenatchee allows the stores to be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The change puts the city on the same page as the state, which allows the stores to operate from 8 a.m. to midnight. The city of Chelan also specifically allows those hours, and East Wenatchee doesn’t specify but complies with the state law.
A local business owner asked for the change last year, Community Development Director Glen DeVries said. The reason for the discrepancy is unclear, but some councilmembers and city staff said it could have been that the state law was different when Wenatchee set the hours.
“I don’t know how the hours of operation got expanded for all the rest of them, but I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t adopt the standard that all of our neighbors are doing and allow these people that are in a legal business to compete on the same footing as the other businesses,” Mayor Frank Kuntz told the council.
The ordinance is expected to go into effect in March. If the change doesn’t work out, Kuntz said, the council could choose to return to the current hours.
Councilmen Keith Huffaker and José Cuevas voted against the revision, citing concerns that extending store hours would increase the likelihood of marijuana-related crime.
“As I heard from some constituents, why is there a reason that people want to buy marijuana so late?” Cuevas asked. “That’s why there’s, maybe, issues and problems out there on the streets?”
Police Chief Steve Crown said there’s no statewide study on the pros or cons of allowing such stores to stay open late. He pointed out that it’s illegal to use marijuana in public and that his department’s main issue with it relates to driving under the influence.