Moratorium 2: City studying regulation options for ‘collective’ marijuana gardens

Port Orchard’s city council plans to consider, at its Aug. 23 meeting, a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana gardens, similar to a moratorium it passed recently on medical marijuana dispensaries.

During the moratorium’s six months, the city council hopes to figure out a way to comply with federal law, which prohibits the gardens, and state law, which allows them.

“We’re in a difficult position,” said Councilman John Clauson. “If we do nothing, we’re in a position of gardens springing up wherever.”

If the city develops regulations to control the gardens, however, they could be seen as condoning them–which goes against federal prohibitions, he continued.

Alan Townsend, Port Orchard’s police chief, urged the city council to take action on the issue.

“I Googled, ‘how do I get a marijuana card, if I’m not (ill),’ and 40 pages came up,” he said. “That availability concerns me, and the impact on law enforcement people concerns me.”

Greg Jacoby, the city attorney, presented two options: adopt interim zoning regulations or adopt a six-month moratorium.

The Association of Washington Cities has recommended the zoning regulations.

In a template for potential regulations, drafted by the city association, would-be gardeners would need to get a permit, garden indoors, and comply with location and distance restrictions.

“(Gardens) have to be more than 500 feet from schools, churches, libraries, youth-oriented facilities and residential daycare facilities,” according to the city association’s draft of the regulations.

Several members of the city council, the Mayor and Townsend, expressed concerns that the zoning regulations could violate federal law.

“I’m not necessarily opposed to medical marijuana, I just want to protect the city,” said Mayor Lary Coppola. “We don’t violate federal law, because federal law trumps state law.”

Cities, throughout the state, have reacted to the marijuana gardens in different ways.

Some cities, including Kirkland and Issaquah, have imposed moratoria. Other cities, including Shoreline and Castle Rock have adopted zoning regulations.

“They’re all scratching their heads,” said Jacoby. “Most cities have done nothing.”

We know that the city of Seattle is probably going to essentially legalize dispensaries and collective gardens,” he said. “I think Tacoma is going to tell law enforcement that it’s their lowest priority, but not actually legalize the dispensaries.”



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