Snohomish City Council considers allowing marijuana stores

SNOHOMISH — The Snohomish City Council is asking people to weigh in on the idea of allowing marijuana stores to open in town.

The council plans to submit an advisory measure for the November ballot. Voters can share their thoughts on whether to lift zoning restrictions that now prohibit the production, processing and sale of marijuana within city limits. Advisory measures are used to gauge opinions on city issues. The results are not binding.

This ballot item has been a long time coming.

A 2014 ordinance implemented the zoning restrictions that have kept marijuana shops outside of city limits.

In February 2016, the City Council approved a plan to submit an advisory measure for the Nov. 7 general election ballot.

Last month, three council members raised concerns about the date of the vote. They proposed moving the vote up to the primary election in August.

Councilmember Karen Guzak suggested during a March 21 council meeting that the earlier date may provide clarity sooner for both the council and marijuana businesses hoping to move to Snohomish. Christian Funk, one of the candidates who ran for a vacant City Council position earlier this year, has spoken with council members about opening a marijuana shop in town.

It’s a hot-button issue, Guzak said. The council has voted twice on this issue and reached a split vote each time.

Several councilmembers said they were interested in learning more about the difference in voter turnout during primary and general elections.

City staff compiled data that spanned the odd years between 2005 and 2015. An average of 777 more votes were cast in general elections.

The City Council once again approved scheduling the advisory measure for the general election. It passed 6-1.

Councilman Michael Rohrscheib encouraged people to take the time to vote. Whether people are frustrated or in support of the proposed change, get out and vote, he said.

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins@heraldnet.com.

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