Marijuana bans to last another 6 months in Hoquiam

Hoquiam residents will be banned from owning and operating recreational marijuana businesses and medical marijuana collective gardens for at least another six months. The Hoquiam City Council voted to extend the city’s marijuana moratoriums last week.

The two moratoriums are intended to stave off voter-legalized marijuana production, processing and retail businesses, in addition to collective gardens, until the council passes an ordinance regulating the substance, said Councilman Paul McMillan.

Councilwoman Denise Anderson and Councilmen Richard Pennant and Ben Winkelman voted against the collective garden moratorium. Anderson and Winkelman also voted against the recreational marijuana business moratorium, while Pennant abstained from voting because he has a pending marijuana business license.

Winkelman argued that the City Council should respect voters’ wishes and allow marijuana businesses within city limits.

If the moratoriums had been allowed to lapse, the city would have been left without any marijuana business restrictions, aside from those enacted by the state Liquor Control Board last fall, said City Attorney Steve Johnson. The board is currently processing applications for recreational marijuana businesses.

Hoquiam is at least a month away from having more permanent rules for the businesses. Council members voted to send the proposed marijuana ordinance, which was introduced in December, to the city’s hearings examiner for consideration. The hearings examiner will have 30 days to conduct a public hearing and send recommendations to the council, said City Administrator Brian Shay.

The hearing hasn’t been scheduled. After the hearing, the council will vote on the ordinance.

Originally, the ordinance would have restricted marijuana businesses to Hoquiam’s industrial zones and banned medical marijuana collective gardens. But at a Jan. 20 meeting, McMillan introduced an amendment that would ban all marijuana businesses – at least until Congress passes legislation to legalize recreational marijuana nationally or the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Washington’s decision to legalize pot is, in fact, legal.

“As a former history teacher, I know that the federal law always trumps state law,” McMillan said.