Two emergency ordinances showed up abruptly Thursday morning on next week's Everett City Council agenda.
The first is an interim ordinance that establishes zones and regulations for how medical marijuana gardens could be operated in the city. The second is a one-year moratorium on the gardens so city staff have a chance to research the issue, city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said.
Nine days ago, Reardon told The Herald the city wasn't considering a moratorium. Since then, the city's attorneys -- with Mayor Ray Stephanson's approval -- have decided to go forward with one. The City Council still needs to vote on the lawyers' proposal for it to go into effect.
The city is trying to get the measures passed before a state law goes into effect July 22 that allows the gardens.
Under the new law, up to 10 qualifying patients can grow up to 45 plants at a collective garden. The law allows cities to license, zone and impose health and safety requirements on collective gardens within their jurisdiction.
Everett officials want to act quickly to "prevent widespread proliferation of unregulated collective gardens throughout the city," according to the ordinance cover sheet. The full ordinance wasn't available on the city's website Thursday afternoon.
Reardon said she wasn't aware of any groups interested in starting medical marijuana gardens.
At least one local commercial real estate agent has seen an uptick in interest since the law passed.
Two dozen people have contacted Rick Lapinski looking for commercial space in Everett to set up co-ops.
A Woodinville-based cooperative also wanted to hold a two-day cannabis market at a building he owns in Lowell.
Lapinski asked the organizer to cancel the event after he received a phone call from city officials warning that the event was probably illegal.
The organizer, Mike Keysor of Alti Mountain Organics in Woodinville, said the city's tactics were over the top.
Keysor planned a private event with 25 vendors who would sell medical marijuana and related products only to people with a doctor's prescription for medical marijuana.
He first contacted the city weeks ago and heard nothing until 4 p.m. the day before the event.
Keysor listened in on a phone call from a police officer to the building owner. According to Keysor, the officer reportedly implied that one complaint call could lead to the city seizing the whole building, using public nuisance laws.
An Everett police officer did have a conversation with the owner that educated him on drug nuisance laws that could be applied if an illegal activity occurred at the building, Reardon said.
Under that law, it's possible for restrictions to be placed on property for up to a year, such as preventing the owner from leasing the building out, she said. The city would never interfere with a legal event having to do with medical marijuana, she said.
However, Reardon also said the city views all medical marijuana dispensaries as illegal, and, therefore, plans to sell it at the event would have violated the law. The event had nothing to do with the emergency ordinances going before the council, she said.
The Everett City Council is scheduled to vote on the two ordinances at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall chambers, 3002 Wetmore Ave.
Usually, the public has at least three weeks to comment on a proposed ordinance.
The cover sheets for the ordinances posted on the city's website don't provide many details. Reardon said marijuana gardens would be restricted to agricultural areas and the planning director would have to OK any proposed gardens.
The city needs additional time to figure out regulations that would address concerns related to the storage and handling of chemical compounds, exhaust and air quality, storage of cannabis, electrical wiring, public safety and crime prevention, according to one cover sheet.
Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or email@example.com.
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