The Spokane Valley City Council took a stance Tuesday that that was appropriate for the topic at hand: Sit back, relax and see what happens.
After hearing an update from city legal staff, council members didn’t exactly light up to the possibility of drafting new regulations restricting either recreational or medical marijuana sales, as neither the Washington state Liquor Control Board nor the federal government has clarified legalities surrounding a voter-approved marijuana initiative.
Until that happens, the council will continue with the wait-and-see approach.
“I think that we’re fine with waiting,” said City Manager Mike Jackson, adding that even going as far to draft more restrictive rules for where, say, medical marijuana dispensaries can be located in the city – such as 1,000 feet from a school or library, for example – actually documents that the city recognizes the operation as a legitimate business -- which, currently, the federal government does not.
“I’d agree with Mr. Jackson’s approach,” said Council Member Chuck Hafner, adding that more information will come eventually “so we can make an intelligent decision down the road.”
Washington voters approved Initiative 502 -- which legalized, to a limited extent, the recreational use of marijuana – last November. However, marijuana is still recognized as an illegal drug at the federal level.
Across Washington, municipal and county governments have all been faced with the same issue: where to locate businesses looking o sell marijuana and its associated paraphernalia. By the end of the year, the state will have to have rules adopted governing the growing and selling of pot, and licenses will need to be issued at that time.
While it’s unknown how many requests for licenses there will be in Spokane Valley for the recreational selling of marijuana – that’s handled at the state level -- there have been five requests at City Hall for registrations medical marijuana dispensaries. Erik Lamb, deputy city attorney, said he did not know if any of the businesses were operational.
Council Member Ben Wick said he is in favor of drafting rules for medical marijuana stores that would mirror the state’s rules for where recreational shops can operate. The state will not license marijuana facilities within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, recreation centers, child-care facilities, parks, libraries or game arcades.
“In my mind, I’d like to see that they match,” he said.
But after Jackson’s comments, the council agreed it would be best to wait.
“I personally think we need to be careful,” said Council Member Arne Woodard.
In other news, the council:
- Approved a second and final reading of an ordinance that will amend the city’s municipal code section pertaining to the State Environmental Protection Act exemption levels for new construction.
- Approved a first reading of an ordinance that will amend the city’s rules pertaining to “dangerous dog” regulations so that they match Spokane County’s. Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service provides animal control for Spokane Valley. The second and final reading for approval is expected at the May 28 meeting.
- Approved a first reading of a budget amendment after a public hearing.
- Heard and update on a request to allow used manufactured homes to be allowed on individual lots in Spokane Valley. The current ordinance only allows new manufactured homes. The first reading of the ordinance is planned for May 28.