Snohomish starts drafting marijuana rules
SNOHOMISH — The City Council acknowledged last week it was time to address regulations for medical marijuana use now that the voters have legalized the recreational use of the drug.
But the moratorium on medical marijuana gardens that was adopted in 2011 will stay in place for up to another six months as the city works on establishing regulations. The council voted last week to extend the moratorium.
Planning manager Owen Dennison said at the Nov. 20 council meeting that he expects to present draft regulations to the council in January.
“As a city, we need to move forward,” said Councilman Paul Kaftanski, adding that after seeing Initiative 502 pass, he thinks it’s obvious that “the people of this state want this issue addressed.”
I-502 legalized the sale, possession and recreational use of up to one ounce of marijuana for people 21 and older. The state must also allow for the sale of the drug at state-regulated storefront shops. The drug is still considered illegal under federal law.
Dennison said the city will need to “address these concerns at a local level, which creates an unusual context for adopting regulations.”
Police Chief John Flood said it would be “nice to have it all in one area,” as it makes it easier to ensure it’s “safe for everyone.”
Flood said because marijuana is still illegal under federal law but has been a low priority in Washington for years, police don’t strictly enforce marijuana laws as it is now.
“If we find someone utilizing marijuana, we take it on a case by case basis,” Flood said.
Mayor Karen Guzak spoke in support of medical marijuana.
“I definitely think the city of Snohomish should allow medical marijuana gardens,” Guzak said. “We’re not quite ready to vote on specifics, but I’m in favor of moving ahead.”
The original moratorium was established by ordinance in July 2011 and was extended twice this year. The moratorium was set to expire Dec. 19.
Dennison said he plans to use the city of Mukilteo’s ordinance as a partial template for Snohomish’s rules.
“If the council would like to make medical marijuana available to citizens, Mukilteo has a pretty good approach in the way they look at the health and safety aspect of it,” Dennison said.
Mukilteo restricts where medical marijuana gardens can go. For example, gardens can’t be near schools