The D.C. Council passed emergency legislation today that would restrict marijuana cultivation centers currently seeking approval from the city from operating in areas where officials are hoping new retail will develop.

Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander initially pushed for it out of concern over the possibility that pot farms might crop up in her ward and stymie economic development, but she says the legislation could affect other areas of the city as well.

“There is a planned priority retail area for development [in Ward 7],” Alexander said. “And that area is planned as a part of the development. It would limit our retail space, it would limit some of the opportunities for economic development in that area.”

At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson argued that the pot centers won’t have any effect on retail development at all. He, Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, and At-Large Councilmember David Catania voted against the legislation, but it passed 9-3.

“I suspect what’s really an issue here is that people don’t want a cultivation center even though, in fact, it is just growing plants,” Mendelson said.

Residents of Ward 5 have been worried about their neighborhoods turning into a “dumping ground” for pot (which, as it happens, Lydia DePillis wrote about late last year in Washington City Paper). As a result, the council has limited dispensaries to six per ward. Alexander assured Ward 5, with a laugh, that she would make sure the new cultivation centers blocked by her legislation would not be placed in their community.

Current applicants have 180 days to ammend their applications without negatively affecting their current application, and the legislation passed today does not apply to future applicants.

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