As Pierce County Says NO To Marijuana Businesses, Tacoma City Council Discuss How To Welcome More

MJNN EXCLUSIVE REPORT
By Aaron Ball

WASHINGTON: Just hours after Pierce County residents voted No on 1 — a measure that would have allowed legal marijuana production and sales in the unincorporated county — the Tacoma City Council convened to reconsider its cannabis policy.  The Council held a public hearing Tuesday evening to receive input about recommended amendments to its pot regulations, including modifications to Tacoma Municipal Code (TMC) Title 13 Land Use Regulatory Code and to the nuisance regulations contained in TMC Title 8 Public Safety.

In response to merging of Washington’s unregulated medical marijuana industry into I-502, and an increase in the number of Retail Licenses allotted for Tacoma by the State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), Tacoma Planning and Development Services manager Brian Boudet presented recommended amendments to the regulations that govern legal cannabis within city limits.  The LCB recently doubled the cap on Tacoma retail stores, from 8 to 16.  Under the current Tacoma zoning regulations, there is very little compliant space left to accommodate the increase in retail outlets.

To solve the dilemma, the planning commission recommends that the buffer for sensitive areas such as parks, libraries and arcades be reduced from 1,000ft to 500ft and transit centers be reduced to 100ft.  The 1000ft buffer from schools and playgrounds would remain.  Mr Boudet stated that it was important to maintain “equitable distribution” to ensure “that the entire community is served” while controlling against “high concentrations of retail stores.”

Staff and Planning Commission recommendations are very close on these recommendations; where they differ is the Planning Commission is recommending no buffer between retail locations while staff is recommending a 500-ft buffer downtown and 1000-ft elsewhere.

Mayor Marilyn Strickland expressed a concern for the 30 or so medical stores operating within the city limits. “The city council has always had an open minded attitude about respecting the will of the voters,” she said.  But, she bemoaned the fact that local government is still waiting “for the state to do its job and offer the guidelines” for implementing legal cannabis.   In the meantime, the council  “looked the other way,” she admits, and allowed for “many business that are open now, who wont be when these rules are put into place.”

The Mayor emphasized the importance of ensuring that “there is a place and an opportunity for those who did the right thing and played by the rules” to be able to open, while making sure that those who are operating illegally get closed down.  She concluded by saying that in the end “we are trying to normalize the market.”

There were competing views regarding limiting the number of pot shops in the city. Staff recommends that the city impose a local cap of 16 retail locations, the current cap imposed by the LCB.  The Planning Commission recommends that there be no local cap at all.  Proponents of a local cap being implemented argue that in just short of a year the LCB doubled the allotted stores for Tacoma.  If the state were to increase this allotment again staff wants the City Council to be able to revisit the new number before applications begin flooding in.  Councilman Thoms thought a cap, at least in the short term, was a good idea. “We saw in increase from 8 to 16 without having a say.”

Almost all of the public testimony was from individuals related to the cannabis industry and although some of the details varied the general message was a plea for the council to relieve some of the stifling land use regulations.  The only voice in opposition to lessening regulations was the owner of an Alzheimer assisted living home, who said that the marijuana store on the corner “changed the complexion” of the neighborhood and brought “gang activity.”

The City Council will have a study group on these proposed amendments on May 3rd and will have a first reading on May 10th.

 

  Existing Regulations Staff Recommendations Planning Commission Recommendations
Cap on Retail Stores No max cap on stores in the city Cap at 16 (Current state cap) No Local Cap
Buffers for Retail Stores
  • 1000ft for schools and play grounds
  • 1000ft for other sensitive uses (parks, arcades, libraries, etc)
  • 1000ft for schools and play grounds
  • 100ft for transit centers citywide
  • 500ft for sensitive uses within Downtown
  • 1000ft for other sensitive uses elsewhere
  • 1000ft for schools and play grounds
  • 100ft for transit centers citywide
500ft for sensitive uses citywide
Dispersion between stores Not required
  • 500ft for  Downtown
  • 1000 ft for other sensitive uses  elsewhere

 

Not required
Medical Endorsement Not currently addressed 50% of retail stores will be required to have State Medical Endorsement 100% of retail stores will be required to have State Medical Endorsement
Medical Cooperatives Not currently addressed Allow Cooperatives, with Standard State buffers:

  • 1 mile from retailers
  • 1000ft from sensitive uses
Allow Cooperatives, with reduced buffers:

  • 1 mile from retailers
  • 1000ft from Schools and playgrounds
  • 100ft from other sensitive uses

 

City of Castle Rock, WA Proposes Moratorium On Marijuana And Cannabis-Infused Products

WASHINGTON: Castle Rock, WA, which calls itself the “Gateway to Mt. St. Helens” has proposed a moratorium prohibiting the retail sale, growing, production, and processing of marijuana and cannabis-infused products intended for medical and/or recreational use within the Castle Rock city limits for a one-year period of time, during which the city will study regulatory options and may propose amendments.

A public hearing, in accordance with RCW 35A.63.220, has been scheduled for April 25th, 2016 at 7:30PM at the former Exhibit Hall Building, 147 Front Ave. SW, Castle Rock, WA.

Comments may be mailed in advance to Deborah Johnson, City Planner, c/o Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments, Administration Annex, 207 Fourth Ave N., Kelso, WA 98616-4195; or emailed to: djohnson@cwcog.org. Advance comments must be received by 5PM on April 25, 2016.  Written comments may also be submitted in person through the close of the hearing.

 

 

Islandia NY Bans Medical Marijuana Sales

NEW YORK: The village of Islandia is not one of the locations being mentioned as a site for any of the state’s 20 approved medical marijuana dispensaries, but that didn’t stop its Board of Trustees from passing a law anyway making the sale of pot there illegal.

Some residents praised the pre-emptive rejection.

“It could destroy your life,” one man told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs. “Just say no.”

“Kids are going to abuse that stuff,” another man said. “Especially I have three stepkids, so I don’t want them anywhere near that stuff.”

Islandia Mayor Allan Dorman said he believes medical marijuana should only be distributed by doctors, not in stores.

Albany, Oregon Considers Permanent Ban On Recreational Marijuana

OREGON: Albany City Council members may not be not averse to pursing a permanent ban on recreational marijuana.

The council on Wednesday voted to ban temporary sales of recreational pot at medical dispensaries, with two of six councilors, Ray Kopczynski and Dick Olsen, dissenting.

The vote could be a harbinger of greater plans to ban the drug permanently.

“My gut feeling is that there may be an attempt to try to do that,” Kopczynski said of the possible move.

Beyond Kopczynski’s assessment, documents from the council seem to suggest such a move is possible.

Bloomington Minnesota Considers Moratorium On Marijuana Manufacture

MINNESOTA:  Bloomington is considering barring medical marijuana production and sales facilities in the city.

The City Council is set to vote Monday on the proposed one-year moratorium.

Bloomington planning manager Glen Markegard tells Minnesota Public Radio News the moratorium would give the city time to develop a better understanding of how to regulate such facilities.

Markegard says city officials understand that since federal law prohibits the sale of marijuana, credit card companies do not work with dispensaries. Markegard says as a result, the public has to bring cash, and that “presents unique security considerations.”

Anticipation, Anxiety As State Prepares For Next Step In Medical Marijuana Legalization

MINNETSOTA:  Next week, the Minnesota Department of Health will name the two companies it has selected to grow and refine the state’s entire supply of medical marijuana.

While some communities are ready to welcome new agribusinesses, others have taken steps to block marijuana outlets from setting up shop.

The city of Duluth, which spent years battling a downtown head shop, just passed a six- to 12-month moratorium on any talk of zoning for medical marijuana manufacturing or dispensing facilities. The Minneapolis suburb of Richfield passed a similar moratorium in October after two different cannabis companies approached the city about setting up dispensaries there, should they get the nod from the state.

“From our perspective, what’s really important is to get ahead of the game and figure out how, or where, those facilities might fit into our community,” City Manager Steve Devich said at the time.

 

Broomfield City Council Extends Ban On Marijuana Businesses Through 2017

COLORADO:  Broomfield City Council has extended a ban on marijuana businesses for another two years.

At it meeting Tuesday, council extended the ban on marijuana-related businesses, such as grow operations, testing facilities, product and manufacturing facilities and retail outlets. Those businesses were already banned in Broomfield through January 2015. With the extension the ban is set to expire in 2017.

When council first enacted the ban in 2013, it indicated voters likely would have the last say on the future of the pot industry in Broomfield. Yet the ordinance did not explicitly guarantee the issue would land on the ballot — either council or voters have to officially ask for a ballot initiative.

Council’s consideration of extending the ban came after several discussions about whether doing so would help keep drugs away from minors and address concerns from residents who don’t want retail pot businesses near schools or other community spaces.

Issaquah WA City Council Approves Recreational Marijuana

WASHINGTON: With the moratorium on recreational marijuana in Issaquah expiring July 7, the Issaquah City Council voted 5-2 Monday night to allow the one retail outlet the city can legally have. Two applications have been received for producer/processors licenses that can be issued in the city. The moratorium will be removed June 16 when the ordinance is recorded.

It’s been one year and seven months since Washington state voters approved I-502, legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use. The council’s Land and Shore Committee has discussed marijuana regulations at no less than five meetings, and has called for community input a number of times, with little feedback.

The one retail establishment will be allowed in a commercial zone, with the exception of the central business district. Producer/processors are allowed only in areas zoned intensive commercial. Security systems and cameras are required at all facilities, and any recreational marijuana business is subject to inspections. Home business, or home grows are not allowed.

Councilmembers Nina Milligan and Eileen Barber voted against the bill.

 

 

Lawsuit Filed Over Centralia Pot Store Ban

WASHINGTON:  Another lawsuit is challenging the authority of cities in Washington state to ban licensed marijuana businesses.

A prospective marijuana retail businessman sued the city of Centralia on Tuesday, saying the city’s moratorium is an unconstitutional ban on a legal activity.

Perry Nelson, proprietor of RIU420, filed the lawsuit in Lewis County Superior Court. The lawsuit seeks an order allowing Nelson to operate a pot shop.

Wenatchee’s ban on state-licensed pot businesses is also being challenged.

School Board Tells Gig Harbor WA It Does Not Want Retail Marijuana

WASHINGTON:  The Peninsula School District Board of Directors will present an official resolution to the Gig Harbor City Council, asking the council to consider additional restrictions, including an outright ban, on retail marijuana in city limits.

The board approved the official language of the resolution unanimously. A six-month moratorium on retail marijuana was passed by the city council April 14. The city council will hold a public hearing on the moratorium at its June 9 meeting.

A public records request by the Gateway reveals that six feedback emails were sent regarding the resolution. All six emails opposed passage of the resolution, many of them mentioning that Initiative 502 passed 54 percent to 45 percent in Gig Harbor.

Board President Harlan Gallinger claims that the of the six emails, only one comes directly from a community member. The other five are linked to business interests and a former student, under the legal age limit for retail marijuana.

“The argument here is not about marijuana,” one letter reads. “It’s about the overreach of authority, the overrule of the majority of the public and the setting of a very dangerous precedent that will lead us down a very slippery slope.”