City opts for further study of marijuana businesses

City of Marysville Attorney Grant Weed reviews procedural points with the City Council during its Feb. 10 discussion of recreational marijuana business alternatives. - Kirk Boxleitner
City of Marysville Attorney Grant Weed reviews procedural points with the City Council during its Feb. 10 discussion of recreational marijuana business alternatives.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville City Council voted unanimously on Monday, Feb. 10, to continue the city’s current moratorium on recreational marijuana processors, producers and retailers, while sending the issue back to the Planning Commission for further consideration.

While the city’s five-member I-502 Committee failed to come to a consensus on the six alternatives presented by city staff for discussion purposes, the Planning Commission voted unanimously on Jan. 14 to recommend to the Council that they prohibit all recreational marijuana processors, producers and retailers within the city limits.

However, as the current state legislative session unfolds, I-502 Committee members, such as City Council member Steve Muller, have asked how new laws might impact such a decision.

“There are bills being introduced that, if passed, would allow a revenue sharing arrangement, with a percentage going to the cities, that the cities aren’t currently entitled to,” said Gloria Hirashima, chief administrative officer for the city of Marysville. “There are also bills relating to cities choosing to preempt such establishments, which would prohibit cities from prohibiting marijuana businesses. There’s even the possibility of punitive measures on that score, through cities’ liquor revenues being reduced.”

While Muller had recommended to his fellow I-502 Committee members that the city continue the moratorium until regulating agencies such as the Washington State Liquor Control Board have put into place rules that are upheld by the courts, even he felt uncomfortable with settling on prohibition as the city’s only option, in light of these ongoing legislative developments. His recommendation that the Planning Commission revisit all six alternatives was echoed by fellow City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Vaughan.

“Steve makes an important point,” Vaughan said. “Even in the wake of the Attorney General’s opinion, there’s still a lot of uncertainty here, so we should take the time to study this issue further, see what other cities are doing and collect more data.”

“If the Legislature really does decide to preempt our ability to prohibit these sorts of establishments, we need to have a backup plan in place,” agreed fellow Council member Jeff Seibert. “We need to know where to put these businesses, if we need to.”

On Sept. 9 of last year, 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.” The Council’s vote on Feb. 10 leaves that moratorium in place, but also calls for this issue to be brought back up for discussion in April, following the completion of the current state legislative session, at which point the Planning Commission will be expected to have conducted further research.

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