Maple Valley City Council approves a year-long moratorium on zoning for collective gardens and dispensaries for medical marijuana
By TJ MARTINELL
Covington Reporter Reporter
July 13, 2011 · Updated 5:15 PM
The Maple Valley City Council approved a year-long moratorium on zoning for collective gardens and dispensaries for medical marijuana.
At the July 11 meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance, which suspends any zoning for collective gardens and and dispensaries used for growing or selling medical marijuana for a year.
The moratorium was passed in response to a bill passed by the state legislature this year which allows the state to legalize and regulate medical marijuana collective gardens and dispensaries. The law permits 10 qualifying patients to join together and form a collective garden of no more than 45 plants. It also cannot be visible from public spaces.
The law also gives cities the authority to impose a moratorium before the law takes effect on July 22.
Ty Peterson, Maple Valley's community development director, spoke in support of the moratorium due to the ambiguity of state law, which had significant amounts of it vetoed by Gov. Gregoire. The law also conflicts with federal law, in which the growing, selling, possession and use of marijuana is illegal.
"It's bizarre," said City Manager David Johnston. "I can't think of any other way to describe it."
Johnston stated in a phone interview that a moratorium will allow the City Council time to decide on the best course of action.
"Our intention (is) to go through a process to help educate the public and provide the best information possible for our council," he said.
He also stated the city is viewing the issue as from a land-use perspective.
"You have to have it be an acceptable use," he said. "We have to go through a zoning use to see where it would be best to have this business. Once it's done, we have to look at those other issues. Do we want to regulate those businesses through licenses? How is the city going to reconcile all of this when it's illegal through federal law?"
Contact Covington Reporter Reporter TJ Martinell at email@example.com or 425-432-1209 ext. 5052.