Cowlitz PUD is softening its stance on marijuana businesses.

A policy for providing power to state-sanctioned marijuana operations, which remain illegal under federal law, likely will receive a vote at the PUD Commission meeting Tuesday.

The resolution would allow licensed marijuana growers, producers and sellers to receive PUD service, but it gives the utility an exit strategy in case of federal prosecution or the threat of losing its ability to purchase power from the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency.

The PUD commissioners had previously considered an outright embargo of service to cannabis businesses, citing litigation concerns and a lack of clarity over whether the PUD would be acting criminally if it provided power to those businesses.

The addition to the customer service agreement would have read that power can only go to customers obeying local, state and federal laws, thus barring marijuana growers, producers and retailers. That resolution was tabled at the commissioners’ June 10 meeting.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners will instead consider language that allows connections and outlines six conditions for discontinuing power. Those are:

  • A request is made by local, state or federal authorities to halt service.
  • A court orders the PUD to halt service.
  • Threats of or actual prosecution against the PUD materialize.
  • The customer no longer has a state-issued license to operate.
  • A lawsuit is filed against the PUD to prevent service.
  • A change in law or federal pre-emption would require the PUD to stop service.

Commissioner Merritt “Buz” Ketcham said in a press release that it’s important to provide power to all customers, but also to ensure power can be bought from the BPA, the source of 90 percent of the PUD’s electricity.

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Brooks Johnson covers Longview city government, Cowlitz PUD and Lower Columbia College for The Daily News. Reach him at 360-577-7828 or bjohnson@tdn.com.


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