County Council defers decision on marijuana — again

After listening to more than two hours of public testimony about proposed amendments to the rules for marijuana enterprises, the Snohomish County Council on Wednesday decided again to delay taking action on the issue.

Now the council is expected to decide whether to allow licensed recreational marijuana operations in some rural areas at 10:30 on May 6. At that meeting, the elected council will not take more input from people.

“This has been very difficult,” said Council Chairman Dave Somers, noting some members wanted more time to ask questions about the proposed amendments. Councilman Ken Klein was alone in opposing the delay.

The council on March 4 extended for six months a moratorium on new marijuana businesses in certain rural areas after hearing hours of testimony from people in the newly legal industry and concerned neighbors. The council plans to enact permanent rules before that moratorium expires.

Voters in 2012 approved Initiative 502, which created the state’s legal recreational marijuana industry. In 2013, the council enacted county policies for pot businesses.

But after people voiced concerns, the council in October enacted two emergency ordinances, one addressing recreational marijuana businesses and the other related to medical-marijuana dispensaries and gardens.

Council members wanted more time to consider issues raised by people in the unincorporated Clearview area and in so-called R-5 zones — rural areas where the county typically allows only one house per five acres.

Residents’ worries prompted the council to pass an emergency ordinance that banned growers, processors and retailers in the R-5 zone that weren’t already in business as of Oct. 1. It also enacted another measure that prohibited new medical marijuana businesses along a one-mile stretch of Highway 9 in Clearview.

More information on the proposed regulations can be found at tinyurl.com/ojx8yyp.

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