No pot shops in Snohomish for at least six months
SNOHOMISH - The City Council voted unanimously last week to place a moratorium on recreational marijuana businesses.
A public hearing on the moratorium is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 3 during the regularly scheduled council meeting.
The six-month moratorium bans the production, processing, and retail sale of marijuana. The city’s position on marijuana still remains open, Mayor Karen Guzak said, but the regulations concerning recreational marijuana needs to be clarified before Snohomish opens for business.
All seven council members seemed to agree: they don’t want the city to act as the state’s “guinea pig” by testing out the new frontier of legalized pot.
Law enforcement is “unsettled” in regards to recreational marijuana, “making litigation almost a certainty,” Councilman Greg Guedel said.
“I don’t want Snohomish to spend tens of thousands of dollars of our citizens’ money to be the legal guinea pig,” Guedel said. “I believe we should allow lawsuits against the state to proceed to conclusion and then develop a formal policy based on the guidance we receive from the courts.”
While marijuana businesses will be allowed in other cities, in Snohomish it won’t be allowed until the city feels clearer rules are in place.
The 7-0 vote at last week’s council meeting to put the moratorium in place will allow other cities to set a sort of legal precedent by trial and error, city planner Owen Dennison said.
Preparation of a moratorium ordinance was directed by the council after a discussion on the topic at the Sept. 3 meeting.
“The moratorium will allow staff to work with our planning commission and bring back zoning code regulations prior to the expiration of the moratorium,” Councilman Paul Kaftanski said. “I believe we took a practical step.”
Guzak said she is “happy to support recreational marijuana in our city, but I want it zoned properly.”
In an e-mail asking Guedel what his general views were on the topic of legal marijuana, he replied: “I believe our community’s priority should be educating our children — not creating more places to buy marijuana.”
The state Liquor Control Board recently released final rules for the recreational marijuana industry, which was made legal with the passage of Initiative 502.
In 2011, the council placed medical marijuana businesses under the city’s nuisance code. This doesn’t specifically approve or license dispensaries, but rather specifies locations and conditions where they are actively discouraged.
Before deciding on the best course of action for medical marijuana, the city enacted three consecutive six-month moratoriums. Dennison’s Nov. 5 staff report indicates that this practice won’t be repeated with recreational pot.
“It is hoped that legal challenges to local zoning controls, if any, will occur with the state’s initial window for applications thereby clarifying the legal framework under which the city’s regulations will be adopted,” Dennison wrote.
The state will be accepting license applications for recreational marijuana later this month.
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