Committee recommends marijuana moratorium remain until July

February 18, 2014

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.

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Issaquah City Council hosts hearing on extending marijuana moratorium

February 6, 2014

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 6, 2014

The Issaquah City Council is hosting a public hearing regarding the proposed extension of the moratorium on recreational marijuana facilities originally adopted by Ordinance No. 2686.

The hearing will be during the regular council meeting at 7 p.m.  Feb. 18, in the council chambers, 135 E. Sunset Way.

Anyone interested may appear at the public hearing and be heard for or against, or provide comments regarding, the proposed moratorium extension.

Learn more by calling Jason Rogers, associate planner, at 837-3097.

Liberty hosts teen marijuana forum

February 4, 2014

As cities continue to grapple with the ramifications of Initiative 502’s legalization of marijuana in 2012, communities across the state are looking inward to determine how it affects its men, women and children.

The voter-approved initiative legalized recreational marijuana use for adults, but it still remains illegal for teens and is technically a federal crime.

The Issaquah Community Network will explore how legal marijuana affects local adolescents with a teen forum Feb. 6 at the Liberty High School Performing Arts Center.

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Marijuana moratorium eyed to gather more public input

January 28, 2014

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.


Old year brought new problems

December 31, 2013

Top news stories of the year

Many new things happened in Issaquah this past year and not all of them were greeted warmly.

While most people saw new parks and a new mayor as positive changes for the city, contention rose around new technology, new development standards, new fish ladders, new plastic bag ordinances and a newly legalized drug.

Much of what happened in 2013 spells more growth for Issaquah in the years to come and even more changes ahead. The year 2014 can learn much from the lessons taught by this past year of transformation.

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December 31, 2013

2014 goals for a better Issaquah

The Issaquah Press presents its annual list of goals for the Issaquah area. A few are repeats from last year, still waiting to be accomplished but worthy of repeating.

February elections — The trio of school district levies, the Klahanie annexation decision and the repeal of the plastic bag ban are all up for a vote. The only good thing about the dismal turnout of voters in the November election is the easy assurance of getting enough voters to validate the school levy election. Let’s hope Issaquah voters get back on track and return their ballots in higher numbers in 2014.

Central Issaquah Plan — The redevelopment plan is in place and developers now know how to maximize the use of their property. One project has already been proposed. It will be interesting to see what other plans come forward and whether the CIP is achieving its goals.

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Marijuana regulations set for unincorporated King County

December 18, 2013

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 18, 2013

Marijuana operation regulations in King County received approval Dec. 9.

During its regular meeting, the King County Council unanimously adopted legislation modifying county building codes and development regulations for the placement of recreational marijuana businesses licensed by the state Liquor Control Board. The regulations would only apply to unincorporated areas.

Outdoor and greenhouse growing would be available in agricultural and rural areas. Indoor growing would be available in business and industrial zones. As per state guidelines, operations cannot exist within 1,000 feet of childcare centers, schools, parks, libraries, recreation centers or in residential areas.

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Marijuana grower eyes budding industry despite moratorium

December 10, 2013

Issaquah’s future marijuana economy could start with one man.

Despite a six-month moratorium on the production and retail of marijuana passed by the City Council in September, Issaquah-resident Lance Blanchard has applied for a state license to produce marijuana in the city.

“It’s been a long time coming, that this legislation was going to happen,” Blanchard said about the passage of Initiative 502 last year. “There is an opportunity here to become a different type of business. Small business is the backbone of our economy, and Issaquah is just perfect for that.”

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State revises recreational marijuana business rules

September 24, 2013

Cities of Issaquah, Sammamish would get one retail store each

Final proposed draft rules from the state would only allow one Issaquah recreational marijuana store.

After hearing public comment on the drafted rules for marijuana production, processing and purchasing, the state Liquor Control Board released a revised version Sept. 4.

Coming two weeks after the city passed a six-month moratorium on recreational marijuana businesses, the new rules address many of the quoted issues the city had with the original draft. The revised version offers numbers for amount of marijuana produced, limits on production and specifics on how many retailers will be scattered across the state.

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Feds respect state marijuana initiative

September 10, 2013

After almost a year of speculation, the United States Department of Justice has decided to defer to Initiative 502.

Though it maintains that marijuana remains an illegal drug under the Controlled Substances Act and federal prosecutors will continue to aggressively enforce the statute, the Department of Justice announced Aug. 29 that it would respect states that have legalized its recreational use in the 2012 election. However, it clearly stated that enforcement and regulation must remain a top priority.

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