Stanwood council to consider banning pot-related businesses

STANWOOD — An upcoming vote of the Stanwood City Council could bar new pot-related businesses from the city.

An ordinance that would prohibit recreational marijuana retailers, producers and processors within city limits is set to come before council members Thursday.

The council meets at 7 p.m. in the Stanwood-Camano School District Administration Building at 26920 Pioneer Highway. A public hearing is scheduled near the beginning of the meeting for people to weigh in on marijuana in Stanwood.

City leaders approved a 12-month moratorium in 2013 to buy them time to create regulations for local marijuana retailers. The moratorium is set to expire Aug. 17. Regulations that would allow recreational pot businesses in Stanwood have been proposed, Community Development Director Ryan Larsen said Monday. However, the Stanwood Planning Commission instead recommended last month that the city council ban shops, producers and processors for at least a year, then revisit the prohibition next summer.

“Because I-502 is based on a different statute than the medical marijuana law, at this time it is uncertain if such a ban on recreational marijuana would be upheld if challenged in the courts,” according to a city staff report.

Cmdr. Pat Slack, with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, is scheduled to speak before the council Thursday. According to meeting minutes, he told planning commissioners that local law enforcement is worried about marijuana shops. Concerns include: the allure of a largely cash-only business for robbers and burglars; illegal sales “out the backdoor” of a licensed retailer; and mixed messages to youth about drug use.

Election results show that a slight majority of Stanwood voters were against legalizing recreational marijuana. Out of 2,774 people, 1,401 voted against Initiative 502 and 1,373 voted in favor.

Depending on the outcome of Thursday’s hearing, council members could postpone their final vote on the ban by extending the current moratorium, Larsen said.

“Something’s going to happen,” he said. “They’re either going to pass the ordinance or extend the moratorium.”

A ban on recreational shops would not affect Fresh Alternative Medicine, Stanwood’s only medical marijuana provider, he said.

Two of the state’s first legal recreational marijuana retailers are within 12 miles of Stanwood City Hall. Cascade Kropz is located at 19129 Smokey Point Blvd. in Arlington and the Bud Hut is on Camano Island at 1123 Highway 532.

As of Monday, no one interested in opening a recreational pot business in Stanwood had filed for a business permit or contacted the city, Larsen said.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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