First Advisor

Barbara Brower

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography




Drug legalization -- Washington (State) -- Yakima, Cannabis -- Law and legislation -- Washington (State) -- Yakima, Marijuana industry -- Law and legislation, Drug legalization -- Washington (State) -- Yakima -- Political aspects




In 2012 Washington state voters legalized recreational marijuana; local jurisdictions retained the option to ban recreational marijuana production, processing, and/or retail sales. Licenses for marijuana business could be distributed by the state to licensees in areas where local laws prohibited the business. This disconnect prompted legal battles between local governments and would-be business owners, as exemplified in the central Washington county of Yakima and the county seat, the city of Yakima. After a series of state policy changes and local community outcry, the city of Yakima reversed its initial ban, while the county continued prohibition. This paper explores issues underlying the decision to prohibit marijuana businesses in Yakima County and city, the consequences of outlawing recreational marijuana, and the incremental reversal of prohibition by the city of Yakima. I conclude that prohibition leads to increased local spending on code enforcement and courtroom battles, while reversing prohibition reduces legal battles and confusion by citizens, and allows the government to quickly reap benefits from a new and lucrative tax revenue.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


A research paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Geography.

Persistent Identifier