Leaders of Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral downtown say they won’t back down in its fight over the Lucky Leaf marijuana shop, meeting with Spokane city leaders and state lawmakers during a forum Thursday.
The church says since the Lucky Leaf pot shop opened a few blocks away, criminal activity in the area has increased and many parishioners feel the store should never have been allowed to open so close to their campus in the first place.
Recently one of the pastors found marijuana packaging in one of the church stairwells. They feel this shows people were smoking marijuana out in the open on the church campus, however church leaders say the issue of substance use and abuse is much bigger than that one wrapper.
“It just seems to me that it’s common sense not to add another drug to an area that is already suffering with substance abuse,” said Father Darrin Connall with Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral.
The church leaders say this all could’ve been prevented if the city and state laws were different. During the meeting Spokane city leaders and state lawmakers took turns pointing fingers at each other over that point.
State Senator Michael Baumgartner said the city can create ordinances to include churches in marijuana shop zoning regulations. Spokane city council member Lori Kinnear said the city shouldn’t have to do that, but rather the legislature should be fixing loopholes so marijuana regulation doesn’t fall on local governments.
Right now the law states that marijuana retailers must be more than 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds, childcare centers and recreation facilities. Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral has several youth programs which is why they feel churches should be included in that zoning law.
Another takeaway from the meeting was that this is an alcohol impact area, which means the city can restrict what kind of alcohol is sold here. Baumgartner said he is working on legislation that would let cities and counties ban marijuana stores in alcohol impact areas.
Lucky Leaf owners have spoken at length on this issue in the past, saying they feel caught in the middle and while they understand the church’s concerns, the shop owners say they have followed all the laws that are in place.