Pasco council discusses pot moratorium; to vote Sept. 3

WASHINGTON: The Pasco City Council discussed a six-month moratorium on producing, processing and selling marijuana in the city at its Monday evening meeting.

City officials say they need more time to review the possible impacts. Many questions remain unanswered after the passage of Initiative 502 by Washington voters.

The law sets up a framework for marijuana producers, processors and retailers to become licensed by the state, but federal law continues to outlaw marijuana.

The city risks violating federal law on one hand, and interfering with Washington resident’s rights on the other, Councilman Saul Martinez said.

“This puts us between a rock and a hard spot,” he said.Moratoriums have served Pasco well in the past, City Manager Gary Crutchfield said. He cited as an example the Liberty Theater, which was converted into an adult establishment in the 1970s.”The city had no ordinance on the books saying, ‘You couldn’t do that,’ or a set of regulations on how you could,” he said. “Had the city been aware of what was coming into the community and put a set of rules in, the city would have been in much better position.”

Cities can set six-month or yearlong moratoriums on marijuana-related businesses, according to city attorney Leland Kerr. The longer moratorium would require the city to show it is putting together a work plan for approving the businesses.

The first licenses for marijuana-related businesses in the state are expected to be issued late this year or early next year.

The council is expected to vote on the moratorium at its Sept. 3 meeting. A public hearing, is planned for Oct. 7.


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