Collective medical-marijuana gardens will not be allowed in Poulsbo until the city updates its zoning code to account for the potential impacts of such gardens and where they might best fit into the community.
POULSBO — Collective medical-marijuana gardens will not be allowed in Poulsbo until the city updates its zoning code to account for the potential impacts of such gardens and where they might best fit into the community.
The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to place a six-month moratorium on the establishment of these gardens within city limits, following behind Bremerton and Port Orchard, which passed similar moratoriums last month. The purpose of the moratorium is not to prohibit the gardens but instead to make sure the city has regulations in place to address the gardens if they ever pop up in city limits.
The council approved a different moratorium on the establishment of medicinal-marijuana dispensaries within city limits earlier this year.
That moratorium is set to expire Sept. 16 and the council does not plan to extend it based on legal advice from the city attorney. The attorney believes the new moratorium plus actions taken by the state Legislature will cover the city’s legal bases until adequate changes are made to the city’s zoning code.
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State legislators passed a bill during the last legislative session that offered legal guidance for licensing and legalization of medical-marijuana facilities and authorized the establishment of the collective gardens, but Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed certain provisions of the bill. Collective gardens fell under the section not vetoed and became legal July 22.
The changes to state law allow up to 10 qualified patients to cultivate collective gardens with up to 15 marijuana plants per person. No more than 45 total plants are allowed per garden.
“We need to have a process in place that satisfies all parties,” Councilwoman Connie Lord said of approving the moratorium to give the council time to discuss the zoning code. “If this is going to be permitted, we need to figure out where in our zoning that could be.”
Troy Barber, the North Kitsap coordinator for Sensible Washington, a pro-legalization political organization, was the only person to comment before the moratorium was approved. He asked council members not to approve the moratorium and encouraged them to talk with experts within the pro-marijuana movement before crafting any laws aimed at governing medicinal-marijuana establishments.
Lord noted Barber’s concerns and asked him and others with interest in the regulations to “work with planning staff on language so that this can be accommodated at some location under our zoning parameters.”
“This ordinance is merely a justification for a moratorium right now because we don’t have something on the books to control this,” she said.
Councilmen Ed Stern and David Musgrove expressed equal concern with the moratorium because they feel local jurisdictions are forced to respond to an issue that should be addressed at the federal and state levels.
“There are a lot of pits and pitfalls ahead of us when we are basically being made responsible for regulations of those before us,” Musgrove said.
The council will hold a public hearing on the moratorium in the next 60 days. It will be in place for sixth months, giving the council time to address the collective gardens in its zoning code update, which is set to be finished at the end of this year.