Centralia City Council delays marijuana action

The Chronicle (Centralia)November 17, 2013 

A marijuana plant is ready for harvesting at a Seattle grow operation. AP PHOTO

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Centralia — The Centralia City Council has agreed to wait 90 days before considering appropriate regulations for the production and sale of recreational marijuana within city limits.

The council voted 4-2 last week in favor of a moratorium, or suspension of action, prohibiting the production, processing and retail sale of recreational marijuana until regulations are in place.

The moratorium will allow the council time to develop zoning, land use regulations and business license regulations for recreational marijuana, City Attorney Shannon Murphy-Olson said.

Murphy-Olson plans to bring a proposal to the Jan. 14 council meeting. A public hearing also is scheduled for the Jan. 14 meeting.

Murphy-Olson said the city needs to have a plan in place because the Washington State Liquor Control Board already has developed regulations for recreational marijuana producers, processors and retailers and will begin accepting applications for licenses Monday.

The sale of recreational marijuana could begin as early as Dec. 1, Murphy-Olson said.

Unless the city acts immediately to address recreational marijuana, the production and sale of marijuana might occur in the city without regulation, creating the potential for adverse impacts on the city and citizens, Murphy-Olson said.

Councilors Gabe Anzelini and Matt Trent both voted against the moratorium, citing that recreational marijuana already is highly regulated at the state and federal level and that there is no reason for the city to get involved.

“The clear witness of history is that the greater threat to public safety is prohibition, not substances,” Trent said. “The more you crank down on this stuff, the more dangerous and expensive and ineffective the whole things gets. It’s a danger to safety, to public morals. The best thing we can do for the city and the most consistent thing in a free society — if we truly care about moral character and the souls of folks — would be to vote against this.”

The council already approved in July medical marijuana collective gardens within city limits. The approved medical marijuana collective gardens ordinance includes strict requirements for collective gardens, such as the directives that no more than one collective garden be located on a single lot and that no collective garden should be within 1,000 feet of a public park, community center, school, day care or church.

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