Committee recommends marijuana moratorium remain until July

February 18, 2014

By Peter Clark

Issaquah’s moratorium on recreational marijuana might last until July.

At its Feb. 11 meeting, the City Council’s Land and Shore Committee discussed the timeline to gauge the city’s needs in terms of tailoring recreational marijuana regulations. The committee members agreed to recommend the council extend the current moratorium, which expires next month, by four months.

The ongoing state legislative session has raised a lot of questions about the future of recreational marijuana businesses, and the council has expressed caution while definitive state regulations remain in flux.

“There’s a lot of movement,” City Associate Planner Jason Rogers said. “It seems like everyone’s kind of on these parallel tracks to see what the Legislature is going to do.”

He said the Legislature had introduced bills that would affect revenue to local jurisdictions, impact how much localities could limit recreational marijuana business, and could combine medical and recreational marijuana laws.

So far, none of the bills have passed, and they exist in various stages of debate. When the Land and Shore Committee previously talked about the current six-month moratorium Jan. 14, it weighed the possibility of a two-month extension. As the number of bills grows, the members saw that timeline as limited.

“We still might not have all the information after 60 days,” Deputy City Administrator Charlie Bush told the committee, indicating the council might not have all the answers until the end of the legislative session.

Additionally, the committee members expressed the desire for as much time for public input as possible.

“The public process is really tight, and do you really get enough discussion?” Councilwoman Mary Lou Pauly asked. “A two-month extension seems a little tight.”

In order to give residents plenty of time to comment, the committee said extending the moratorium to July would give at least three more options. The April 10 Planning Policy Commission, the May 13 Land and Shore Committee meeting and before expected full council action during a June regular meeting were listed as tentative opportunities to gather public opinion.

“One of the reasons that we didn’t move forward was we haven’t had much public input at this time,” Committee Chair Tola Marts said. “I think the council has a track record of acting responsibly and not giving a knee-jerk reaction to these issues.”

The last member of the committee agreed, giving the recommendation to the full council a consensus.

“It gives us time to give us the work that we need to do,” Councilwoman Stacy Goodman said. “I don’t think it’s any benefit to the community to pass regulations prematurely.”


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