Lacey Planning Commission recommends no further rules for pot stores

The Lacey Planning Commission will recommend no additional rules to regulate retail marijuana with regard to churches and known future school sites. The commissioners raised concerns Tuesday night about possible litigation, the difficulty in defininga churchand that proposed schools often are put on hold.

They also felt that the state Liquor Control Board provides enough enforcement under Initiative 502, which was approved by voters and created recreational marijuana. Under the law, Lacey is allowed a maximum of two pot retailers.

But some on the commission also expressed frustration with I-502 because it left out churches among those things a marijuana business can’t be near.

“The next time there is an initiative, sign me up to end all initiatives,” commission member Paul Enns said.

The commission’s recommendation was in line with a city staff recommendation.

Tuesday’s Lacey Planning Commission public hearing and discussion was triggered by Turning Point Church member John Bowser, who had expressed his frustration to the City Council in previous meetings after retail pot businesses were proposed next door to the church.

The church offers addiction recovery services through a program called Celebrate Recovery.

Bowser found it shocking that a church trying to help former addicts would be next door to an adult vice such as pot. Most frustrating to him, though, is that if a liquor store was proposed next door to the church, the state Liquor Control Board, under existing liquor laws, would notify the church about the proposal and provide time for comment.

But because churches weren’t written into I-502, the board didn’t have to notify the church about what had been proposed next door.

Although Bowser spoke in favor of additional regulations, he said after the hearing that the church is prepared to make a purchase offer to Ken Michael, the owner of the property next door to the church. It will be a burden on the church, Bowser said, but it also would eliminate the church’s problem.

Michael also spoke at the hearing, but in support of the status quo.

A previous City Council meeting and work session on marijuana was well attended, but Tuesday’s meeting attracted only about 10 people; about half spoke before the commission. Bowser’s opinion was in the minority Tuesday.

But the commission did receive one written comment from Mike Jackson of Lacey, who wrote “dope activity and retail sales are not a positive for Lacey.”