Opponents of pot moratorium fail to sway Olympia council

mbatcheldor@theolympian.comJune 26, 2013 

More than 100 people turned out Tuesday night, many to tell the Olympia City Council they’re against the city’s one-year moratorium on new medical marijuana collective gardens and other pot-related land uses.

The council, without taking a vote, allowed the one-year moratorium to remain in effect.

The council adopted the emergency moratorium May 7 after City Manager Steve Hall said the city needed a “timeout” to “assess what’s happening” with the collective gardens, also known as medical marijuana clinics.

Under state law, the city was required to have a public hearing.

That hearing was Tuesday night. The crowd offered a common theme: Regulate medical marijuana separately from recreational marijuana, for which the state is developing regulations in light of Initiative 502, which voters approved last year.

Even though I-502 deals with recreational marijuana, Hall has said the city wants to be prepared should the state put the Liquor Control Board in charge of regulating medical marijuana in addition to recreational pot.

“There’s got to be a way in the future for medical and 502 to exist,” said Patrick Seifert, owner of Rainier Express, a collective garden on Legion Way. “You can’t get rid of medical; it’s too important.”

No one spoke in favor of the moratorium. Jeff Gilmore, who testified at the hearing, said: “Don’t let our little city government” stand in the way of “the will of the voters.”

Anthony Martinelli, communications director for pro-legalization Sensible Washington, also spoke against the city’s action.

“Simply put, this moratorium is an unnecessary overreach of power,” he said.

When the moratorium took effect, Olympia had at least eight collective gardens, Hall said. Those businesses aren’t affected by the moratorium.

The city also has heard from a couple of other facilities that said they received patients before the moratorium, Hall said. If that is so, the moratorium also would not apply to them.

In a staff report, city staff pushed for the moratorium, citing a number of potential problems with the facilities, such as burglaries, degraded neighborhood aesthetics, fire hazards, improper ventilation, illegal structural modifications and conversion of retail or residential uses to marijuana facilities.

Councilwoman Jeannine Roe said the moratorium went into place out of a concern of “potentially too many” medical marijuana shops in downtown Olympia.

Councilman Jim Cooper said he’s OK with adult use of medical pot but raised concerns about access to children. He wants to see an advertising ban on medical marijuana clinics.

The moratorium:

 • Bans land and building owners from using properties for the sale, use, growing, distribution or processing of marijuana.

 • Bans approval of any permit applications for collective gardens or any establishment involved in the sale, use, growing, manufacture or processing of marijuana.

 • Prevents existing marijuana gardens from opening connected establishments such as performance spaces, private clubs, night clubs, taverns or similar establishments.

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 mbatcheldor@theolympian.com @mattbatcheldor

The Olympian is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service