Proposed ordinance takes strict stance on marijuana gardens
EVERETT – The city is proposing an ordinance that will significantly restrict where medical marijuana collective gardens can locate.
The proposed ordinance declares such gardens a nuisance and allows the city to restrict them to industrial zoning only. Within that zoning, the gardens can’t be within 1,000 feet of residential zoning areas or 500 feet from another collective garden.
The zoning regulations would replace Everett’s moratorium on collective gardens and could become law in mid-January before the moratorium expires.
The most likely area of town these gardens could locate under the proposed ordinance is near the Port of Everett and near The Boeing Co. in southwest Everett, assistant city attorney David Hall said.
The proposed nuisance ordinance also gives the city additional authority to shut down any collective garden located outside of the guidelines.
Tacoma uses a similar approach to medical marijuana gardens, Hall said.
The City Council is scheduled to take a vote on the ordinance directly after a public hearing Wednesday, Dec. 19.
The city’s legal department created the nuisance ordinance to meet federal drug laws that prohibit cities from setting zoning for such gardens, city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said
“It’s a complex area covered by ambiguous laws,” Hall said.
The city also will close a loophole some collective garden groups use to generate a larger membership base. The state law on collective gardens restricts the number of patients to 10 members per garden and patients can possess or grow up to 24 ounces of marijuana.
Groups such as the Medical Marijuana Patients Network in Mukilteo use a rotating membership base to allow a much higher number of patients access to marijuana for medicinal purposes. The city of Mukilteo was one of the first cities in the county to adopt zoning laws for collective gardens. The city of Snohomish is now considering adopting rules possibly using Mukilteo’s ordinance as a template, the Tribune reported previously.
Under Everett’s regulations, the collective gardens must be enclosed, not emit odors, the marijuana must not be visible and the locations cannot have clear signage stating they deliver marijuana.
Medical Marijuana Patients Network owner Jeremy Kelsey moved his shop to Mukilteo after Everett adopted its moratorium. Kelsey told council members the proposed ordinance is a moratorium disguised as a nuisance law.
People will look online for local medical marijuana deliveries, Kelsey said. There are numerous ads on Craigslist of people offering that service, he said.
The city originally wanted collective gardens located in agricultural zoned areas, such as one near Lowell. The city opted for industrial zones because collective gardens are usually indoors, Hall said.
Councilman Paul Roberts said industrial zoning is a good idea because it avoids conflicts with the agricultural community.
The ordinance has nothing to do with Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana in small amounts for people 21 and older, Reardon said.
I-502 gave the state liquor control board authority to license marijuana growers and retail shops. It will take the state months to create a system allowing retail sales. At this time there is no legal place to buy marijuana. The initiative allows people 21 and older to legally possess an ounce of marijuana.