Marijuana moratorium eyed to gather more public input

January 28, 2014

By Peter Clark

By Peter Clark

Issaquah’s marijuana rules have a way to go before they see the light of day.

The City Council’s Land and Shore Committee met Jan. 14 to discuss the city’s future with recreational marijuana. After passing a six-month moratorium on recreational marijuana business practices in September, the meeting saw the council take its first real steps toward creating local policies for it.

Municipalities can pass restrictions above the established state rules that call for such things as stricter zoning or other mandates.

City Associate Planner Jason Rogers said such restrictions would help the city.

“Adopting our own ordinance allows us to have some control over what the Liquor Control Board has passed,” he said.

He presented the draft of recommendations to the Land and Shore Committee, which included a few changes.

“The proposition we did put forward would not allow outdoor grows because we did not think they would be compatible in an urban area,” Rogers said, explaining one change. “That’s more of an industrial.”

He said the city’s draft also included mandatory 24-hour surveillance, regular police inspection for security requirements and barring recreational/medical marijuana businesses from co-locating.

The committee discussed additional buffer zones besides the already established ones that keep recreational marijuana facilities 1,000 feet away from schools, parks and public amenities.

“So, you could do a 1,000-foot separation from other recreational marijuana locations and all other types of producers and processors?” Councilwoman Stacy Goodman asked.

Rogers said some restrictions could cause litigation from potential businesses.

“The problem is if you get two or three producers and processors and if you buffer between them, you could only fit one in the commercial zone,” he said. “We might get sued by someone saying they are preventing us from operating a legal licensed business. It’s all hypothetical.”

Councilman Paul Winterstein spoke in favor of hearing more from the public. He said it would greatly help the council’s considerations.

“This seems to me very clear,” he said. “I think we should have another Land and Shore meeting and a work session and a final regular meeting for the public to get involved. I like that idea.”

Councilman Tola Marts agreed.

“I think I would like more public comment,” he said. “So citizens can understand the regulations we are putting in place.”

The council passed its current moratorium because the state had yet to adopt official rules. With discussions in the state Legislature on addressing the split between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana rules, the committee voiced reservations.

“It would be nice to not be adopting policy when state law is potentially in flux,” Goodman said. “I think it’s just one of those things that you watch and it’s possible that’s a good reason to give ourselves a little more time.”

Rogers said after the meeting the administration would most likely request another moratorium to get the full council’s input as well as a larger public response.

“It would be for the least amount of time necessary,” Rogers said. “It almost certainly wouldn’t be for another six months.”

He said the extension for the moratorium, which ends March 10, would allow the public to comment at the Land and Shore meeting Feb. 11, the council work session March 10 and at another regular council meeting most likely held March 17.

Even with an extended moratorium, council members did not discourage the future of recreational marijuana in Issaquah.

“It’s not like this council has shown it’s hostile to marijuana,” Marts said.


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