Cheney Free Press -


Cheney marijuana ordinance amended

Council adjusts six-month interim statutes to account for collective gardens growing medicinal cannabis


Cheney’s interim marijuana zoning ordinance was barely two weeks old before it was back before the City Council Nov. 26, this time facing amendments addressing something not included in the initiative legalizing marijuana for recreational use in Washington – collective gardens.

In 1998 voters passed Initiative 692 establishing the use of medicinal marijuana for qualifying patients, which also set up RCW regulations allowing those patients to participate in collective gardens for the purpose of growing, producing and delivering cannabis. The state is now taking applications through Dec. 18 for businesses wishing to produce or sell recreational marijuana, and uncertainty has arisen regarding how the state intends to also regulate medical marijuana.

City attorney Stanley Schwartz told the council he was approached by Councilman John Taves after the Nov. 12 meeting with questions regarding aspects of the recreational marijuana interim zoning ordinance, namely how it was going to address collective gardens. The Washington State Liquor Control Board is required to submit draft recommendations from the Medical Marijuana Workgroup on or before Jan. 1, 2014, with an anticipated new regulatory system for medical marijuana in place no sooner than Jan. 1, 2015.

“There is a window, a one-year window where there will literally not be any regulation,” Schwartz said. Schwartz added he believes the Liquor Control Board will recommend eliminating collective gardens, rolling all marijuana regulated uses under the Initiative 502 system.

The amendments to Cheney’s interim marijuana zoning ordinance set up definitions for collective gardens and establish conditions for their regulation, requiring producers and processors to comply with all state requirements and limiting collective garden locations to the Business Park (BP) and Light Industrial (I-L) zones following a conditional use permit review.

Collective gardens cannot locate within 1,000 feet of sensitive use facilities such as schools, parks, child care or recreational facilities, and must have producing and processing occurring within an enclosed structure. Any collective gardens currently in operation within the city must conform to all provisions of the ordinance within one year, and have seven years to cease operations should the Legislature repel the right to operate.

“We don’t think there are any in Cheney,” Schwartz said.

The council unanimously approved the amended ordinance.

In other business, the council held its final public hearing on the city’s $23.26 million 2014 budget, receiving no additional public comment. Cheney budgeted just over $23.22 million for 2013.

Finance Director Cindy Niemeier told the council it could hold the second reading and have the third reading and final passage at its Dec. 10 meeting, or hold the final two readings and final passage immediately since no public comment was received. Councilman Graeme Webster moved for the final two readings and passage to be held, while Councilman Fred Pollard said he preferred to wait until the Dec. 10 meeting just in case there was further comment.

“We’ve had ample opportunity for the public and council to do that,” Webster countered.

Councilman Bob Stockton made the motion to hold the second and third readings and final passage, which the council did 5-0, with Pollard abstaining.

John McCallum can be reached at


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