Sammamish continues pot moratorium until state regulations released
June 28, 2013
By Ari Cetron
Updated: July 3, 11:58 a.m.
Sammamish will continue to take a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to marijuana. The City Council July 2* voted to continue its moratorium on collective marijuana gardens, and to impose a new one on the licensing of facilities for voter-approved recreational marijuana.
In November, Washington legalized recreational marijuana with a statewide vote. In Sammamish, 55 percent of voters approved I-502. It won a majority in 42 of the city’s 47 voting precincts.
Since the approval, the state Liquor Control Board has been engaged in writing regulations for the growing, processing and sale of marijuana. The board expects to complete its work by the end of the year.
Under the terms of the initiative, the drug cannot be sold, grown or processed with 1,000 feet of places such as schools, day care centers or parks.
One looming question, said Community Development Director Kamuron Gurol, is how much local control there will be to restrict that even further, if the city should want to.
“It’s one of the more fundamental questions the council will have to deal with,” Gurol said.
In some ways, the question is academic. Sammamish has its parks and schools fairly close to its commercial centers. As a result, most of the city’s existing commercial land would already be off limits under the terms of the initiative.
The areas where marijuana could legally be sold turn out to be largely residential, Gurol said.
Councilmembers were interested in how the rule coming from the state might shake out.
Councilwoman Nancy Whitten asked if people would be permitted to grow their own for personal consumption.
While the state will regulate commercial growth, the final plan for growing for personal consumption has not yet been released.
Councilman John Curley noted that people can presently brew their own beer without any sort of regulation, so it seems they should be able to grow their own marijuana.
Gurol noted that the state could begin to issue licenses in December, and said the six-month moratorium will give the city a chance to better understand the final version of state regulations, before proceeding.
Gurol also brought up the ban on collective gardens for medical marijuana use. The city has had a temporary moratorium in place since such gardens were authorized by the state in 2012.
Federal and state law is in conflict on the collective garden issue, and the city thought it best to not insert itself into the possible conflict.
Gurol said he understand that continuing a temporary moratorium is generally frowned upon, but that at least one more six-month ban may give the city enough time to better understand the rules.
In another wrinkle, the 1,000-foot rule banning the sale or growing does not apply to collective gardens for medical marijuana, only for recreational marijuana, which would likely complicate the permitting process.
Councilman Don Gerend noted that both Issaquah and Redmond allow collective gardens, so residents could potentially join groups there.
* This version corrects the date of the vote.