Medical Cannabis Permitted in Poulsbo

WASHINGTON: Local residents are now legally allowed to grow medical marijuana in Poulsbo, abiding by the state and local regulations for a collective garden.

The Poulsbo City Council adopted interim zoning regulations relating to marijuana uses Wednesday during the council meeting. The interim regulations will be effective for six months while the council flushes out permanent regulations.

A public hearing is set during the Sept. 11 meeting in council chambers.

The planning office has fielded five to seven calls in the last two months about setting up marijuana operations in Poulsbo, city Planning Director Barry Berezowsky said. Recreational operations — producers, processors and retailers — cannot obtain a license until December, when the state will begin issuing state and local business licenses. Poulsbo was without a safeguard for medical-based operations, or collective gardens, Berezowsky said.

Under state law, a collective garden may have up to 15 plants per patient, capped at 10, for a total of 45 plants. Collective gardens are not permitted within 500 feet of another collective garden or residential zoning district, and not permitted within 1,000 feet of a public park, community center, elementary or secondary school, child care business or youth oriented facility.

Poulsbo planning staff proposed collective gardens be zoned under light industrial, in an enclosed building. No production, processing or delivery of cannabis may be visible to the public.

In the interim regulation, medical and recreational production of marijuana are held to the same zoning standard, and kept to light industrial.

The time is coming for the state to begin issuing licenses, Berezowsky told the council, and the city needs to control the location of these activities.

Around the state in the past several years, officials have seen collective gardens “morphed” into commercial operations, taking advantage of the “poorly written legislation,” Berezowsky and city attorney Jim Haney told the council.

Under state law, collective gardens are not categorized as businesses, therefore do not need a license to operate. Berezowsky said this interim regulation is to make sure a commercial marijuana facility doesn’t set up shop as a “collective garden” in Poulsbo.

The city produced a map showing the restricted areas by state law and the city’s interim zoning code. The area within city limits available for any marijuana operation would be an area between north Viking Way and Vetter Road, zoned light industrial.

Haney also addressed the council’s legal concerns. Cities should not have liability, Haney said, although “this is uncharged territory for all of us.”

The City of Poulsbo is not sanctioning marijuana production with its zoning regulations, and the city should not be subject to federal drug laws, Haney said.

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