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Debra Smith | dsmith@heraldnet.com
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 8:02 a.m.

Marijuana back on agenda; moratorium expires soon

Medical marijuana gardens are back on the City Council agenda tonight, as city leaders consider whether to extend an emergency moratorium passed last year.

The city received no support for extending the moratorium from the Everett Planning Commission Tuesday night. Members said they were concerned doing so would just “kick the can” down the road, effectively avoiding a decision.

Planning Commission members also told city staff they were disappointed they hadn't seen more information about how to regulate the gardens sooner. The short timeline – with the matter coming before them just a day before they were to send a recommendation to City Council -- made the commission feel as if they were making a decision “with a gun to our head,” said Commissioner Scott Murphy.

When the commission chair called for a vote to recommend a moratorium, no one offered a second and the matter died.

“I'm struck by the fact this is the first time this has become before the Planning Commission,” said Commissioner Clair Olivers. “This was taken up by City Council in the form of an emergency ordinance a year ago, yet there's been no staff report or workshop or any kind of activity until tonight's outline was given to us.”

Last year, the moratorium was put in place just a few days before a state law took effect that allowed medical marijuana collective gardens. The law allows cities to license, zone and impose health and safety requirements.

Then, city staff said they needed the emergency moratorium so they could spend time researching how to effectively regulate the gardens.

Deputy city attorney David Hall told the commission last night that the city recommended a moratorium for another six months so court cases involving other area cities, including Kent and Seattle, could work their way through the system and potentially offer some clarity on how Everett should proceed.

Federal laws concerning marijuana conflict with the state law voters passed, leaving the city vulnerable to lawsuits, he said.

No decisions at City Council are expected tonight – a vote is scheduled in three weeks. The moratorium ends July 20.
Story tags » EverettMarijuana

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