Lack of state rules leads city to consider marijuana moratorium

August 20, 2013

By Peter Clark

Issaquah’s administration is considering a moratorium on recreational marijuana licenses until the state figures some things out.

During the City Council’s regular meeting Aug. 5, an agenda bill was passed that outlined temporary moratorium on permitting production, processing and retail sales in the city. The Council’s Land & Shore Committee recommended it during its Aug. 13 meeting, which will initiate a public hearing on the subject during the Sept. 3 council meeting.

As the state’s Liquor Control Board continues to work on establishing permitting rules, the city along with many others including Olympia and Sammamish, has decided to wait until some time passes before it allows recreational facilities in its borders.

“No one really knows how this market is going to shake out,” Issaquah Associate Planner Jason Rogers said. “A lot of it is just uncertainty. We’re trying to let this play out and seek a six-month moratorium. State law definitely allows us to do this.”

The Land & Shore Committee agreed with the administration. Chairwoman Stacy Goodman said that established rules at the state level is the main thing holding the city back from formalizing its own standards.

“We recommended the moratorium because the state hasn’t adopted its own regulations yet,” Goodman said, adding that city officials cannot know yet what concerns to address without state guidelines. “It just seems pretty premature to talk about what issues may arise.”

Rogers said the state allows municipalities to seek six-month moratoriums, which can be extended. However, lengthening a moratorium requires a greater focus on developing a comprehensive plan to adopt state regulations.

“Based on my impression, the vast number of cities are going to seek a moratorium,” Rogers said. “You can extend it. It just becomes more and more untenable as you do.”

He named uncertainty as the biggest factor in the city’s decision. As the liquor board continues to poll the public and establish firm regulations, city officials are concerned about the number of questions still to answer.

“The big unknown in all of this is the Liquor Control Board has an allocation number,” he said referring to the amount of allowable producers and retailers in a location. “They don’t specify what those geographical areas are.”

Under the restrictions of the moratorium, once the state sets its rules, applicants could receive state permitting. However, business practices in Issaquah would be subject to code enforcement.

“We wouldn’t issue permits, but it doesn’t mean they couldn’t get a state license,” Rogers said. “If they did set up shop, they would be in violation of our zoning.”

He stressed that the city had no intention of stretching out a moratorium unnecessarily. Rogers encouraged the public to join in the conversation during the Sept. 3 council meeting. There, the council will decide whether to establish the moratorium.


If you go

Public hearing on marijuana moratorium

  • 7 p.m. Sept. 3
  • Council Chambers
  • 135 E. Sunset Way
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5 Responses to “Lack of state rules leads city to consider marijuana moratorium”

  1. Smoley on August 21st, 2013 9:29 am

    I’m confused. How is a city allowed to blatantly disregard federal law?

    Could Issaquah allow a local business to break other federal laws such as producing and selling fully automatic firearms to its citizens? How is this possible?

    This just sounds like a recipe for trouble.

  2. Washington Cities and I-502 Ordinances: Where is Friendly Vs. Hostile Territory for Producers, Processors, and Retailers? | on August 21st, 2013 4:21 pm

    […] to pass temporary moratorium on September 3, 2013, until Liquor Control Board finalizes […]

  3. Chris on August 21st, 2013 5:03 pm

    Like everything else the State and many cities are trying to figure out how to tax, charge permits, etc for revenue, Alcohal is a lot easier to control since you have to be in a establishment that sells and is taxed, and controlled.

    Liquor and Beer from grocery stores and convenience stores are also controlled and taxed, both need permits to sell. Monitoring and control and getting their revenue is the real reason things are held up.

    This is a lot like cigerettes, they publicly make the stand of not wanting smokers anywhere, but they sure like that revenue that smokers pay in taxes. That 10 Billion dollar settlement that the state received from tabacco growers was taken and borrowed by the state to use for other projects, have not seen any of that go back to the smokers for who it was suppose to help with medical and programs to help smokers kick the habit.

    States, cities, counties and in the future the Feds are going to be tapping into Pot as another sin tax they can milk from the population, just regulation is being hard to implement so far. Since the break thrus in medical use there has to be a seperation from recreation and medicinal usage. This is also a conundrum for the Government to define at all levels.

  4. Current local I-502 regulations (or bans) in Washington cities and counties. | on October 21st, 2013 8:00 am

    […] to pass temporary moratorium on September 3, 2013, until Liquor Control Board finalizes […]

  5. Who Likes Cannabis? A City By City Breakdown. | Canna Law Blog on April 3rd, 2014 4:38 pm

    […]  Looking to pass a temporary moratorium that would remain in effect until the Washington State Liquor Control Board finalizes its […]

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