|On August 13, 2013, the City Council adopted Ordinance 3048, which imposed a moratorium on the acceptance, processing, and issuance of any applications or permits associated with the producing, processing, or retailing of marijuana and marijuana-infused products. As required by state law, the City must adopt findings of fact supporting the moratorium and hold a public hearing within sixty (60) days of adopting the moratorium. The City Council adopted findings of fact at the August 13th meeting and now must hold a public hearing regarding the moratorium. The moratorium can be extended for six-months and may be renewed in six-month increments thereafter, so long as City Council holds a public hearing and adopts findings of fact for each six-month renewal.
The Washington voters approved Initiative 502 (I-502) in November 2012, which, among other provisions, allows persons twenty-one (21) years-old and older to legally possess one-ounce of useable marijuana or marijuana-infused products. I-502 also legalizes the production, processing, and retail sale of marijuana and directs the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) to promulgate rules for the issuance of licenses by the WSLCB to such producers, processors, and retailers. Under I-502, a “producer” is one who produces marijuana at the wholesale level for sale to processors, a “processor” is one who processes, packages, and labels marijuana for sale to marijuana retailers, and a “retailer” is one who sells useable marijuana and marijuana-infused products at a retail outlet.
The WSLCB has promulgated draft rules pertaining to licensing of the producers, processors, and retailers, and held public hearings throughout the state regarding the draft rules. The WSLCB has revised the draft rules since the City adopted the moratorium and thereby extended the deadline for implementation of the rules to November 16, 2013. Upon the effective date of the licensing rules, the WSLCB will begin accepting applications for producers, processors, and retailers of marijuana and marijuana-infused products and could begin issuing licenses before the end of this year. Prior to issuing a license to a producer, processor, or retailer, the WSLCB must give notice of the application for a license to the City, and the City has the right to file written objections to issuance of the license, but the WSLCB makes the final decision whether to issue a license.
Under I-502 the only limitation on where a producer, processor, or retailer can operate is that such activity cannot be within 1,000 feet of the perimeter of the grounds of any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center or library, or any game arcade where persons under twenty-one years old may enter. In light of the imminence of WSLCB issuing licenses and the limited state regulations as to where these businesses can be located, it is important for the City to consider regulations addressing the type and location of facilities/premises used for the production, processing, and retail sales of marijuana and marijuana-infused products.
By imposing a moratorium, it preserves the status quo and allows City staff to review the final rules adopted by the WSLCB and to study and draft potential comprehensive plan amendments, zoning and development regulations, business licensing regulations, and other regulatory controls pertaining to marijuana producers, processors, and retailers who receive a license from the WSLCB.