Planning Commission explores issues and options for marijuana in Medical Lake
At its May 29 meeting, the Medical Lake Planning Commission continued its discussion to explore options on marijuana production, processing and retail facilities within the city.
Medical Lake is currently under a moratorium where the city shall not accept or process applications for land use approvals for these facilities. The moratorium expires this month.
One of the main concerns of the Planning Commission was whether or not legal action could be taken if marijuana was banned from the city. In January, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, issued a formal opinion that stated that Initiative 502 does not prevent municipalities from banning recreational marijuana businesses. However, Ferguson’s opinion is not legally binding.
Some cities in Washington state that have already prohibited recreational marijuana use, including Yakima, Oaksdale and SeaTac. There are currently 25 cities that have permanent zoning for marijuana facilities.
When asked if Medical Lake could be sued for banning marijuana, Ross said he would talk to city attorney Cynthia McMullen about the matter, though he hopes the attorney general’s views can provide some immunity.
Commissioner Wayne Fugere suggested the city have a contingency plan in the event that the city decides to ban marijuana and the attorney general’s opinion is overturned.
Another concern was the increase of crime around marijuana production facilities. Ross said he would ask Spokane County sheriff Ozzie Knezovich for crime data from Colorado.
Fugere said he would like to see at least one retail facility in the area if it would create jobs within in the community.
Ross said a facility could help generate revenue for the city.
“A plant or a retail store located in Medical Lake could sell to an outside source and the city would get money from the sales tax,” Ross said.
One of the only areas available for a facility is the light industrial area on South Graham Road where the old Nike Missile site was located. Ross said a retail store might be the only facility that could go into that area.
Another issue was the possible increase of traffic, specifically on South Graham Road. Ross said the city could request a traffic study done for the area.
Ross said he would bring copies of ordinances from other cities that allow marijuana facilities at the June 26 meeting. He would also have the McMullen put together a draft ordinance that bans marijuana.
Al Stover can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.