MARYSVILLE — Marysville has given itself a year to work out how it will handle marijuana businesses within its city limits.
By a 5-1 vote on Monday, Sept. 9, the Marysville City Council approved an ordinance adopting a one-year moratorium "on the establishment, siting, location, permitting, licensing or operation of marijuana cultivation, production of marijuana or marijuana derivatives," with Council member Rob Toyer casting the lone dissenting vote out of expressed concerns that the Council might wait to make its decision until shortly before the moratorium would be set to sunset.
According to Marysville Chief Administrative Officer Gloria Hirashima, the city needs to conduct local reviews of its zoning and licensing before it can even consider entertaining applications or licenses for marijuana businesses, especially since she expects the Washington State Liquor Control Board to release draft rules on the production, processing and retailing of marijuana for comment as early as October.
"We'll be working through a local committee to conduct those reviews, with representatives from the City Council, the Planning Commission, local businesses and local citizens," Hirashima said. "We've already done detailed mapping, according to the boundaries outlined in Initiative 502, of where marijuana retailers can't be in Marysville, so we need to look at the remaining areas within the city, where they're not restricted under I-502, and determine which of those areas we want to see those retailers allowed in, and under what conditions."
Although Hirashima noted the number of citizens who have already expressed strong interests in this issue at Council meetings, which she believes is good for prospective members of a local review committee, she also acknowledged that the city would need to ensure that the interests of the citizens who do become members of the committee are relatively balanced.
"A couple of people who have come to Council meetings and followed this issue closely are also looking to open their own marijuana businesses, so their interests are obviously going to be different from those citizens who might be next-door neighbors to such establishments," Hirashima said. "We need to make sure various opinions and perspectives are represented."
Hirashima anticipates that the committee's lineup will be finalized during the month of October, and reassured the rest of Marysville's citizens that their voices would also be heard.
"We're tentatively looking at potentially adopting our marijuana rules as soon as April of next year," Hirashima said. "Before we do that, those proposed rules will go up for public comment in front of first the Planning Commission, then the City Council. It's important that this process remain public and involve our citizens' participation. This is a fast-moving area. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, but the state is initiating a system of licensing for it, so there's still a wide range of opinions on this issue."