Medical Lake Planning Commission continues marijuana discussion
The Medical Lake Planning Commission continued discussions about whether or not to allow a marijuana retail, production and processing facility in city limits at their June 26 meeting.
City Administrator Doug Ross presented numbers on how residents of Medical Lake voted on Initiative 502, back in November 2012. Ross said the city voted 1,008 to 905 (52.69 percent) in favor of I-502.
“Medical Lake is divided into three precincts,” Ross said. “One precinct voted no and two precincts had a yes majority.”
In regards to crime statistics in Colorado, Ross said he learned that only DUIs with marijuana have risen since the state legalized the drug.
Commissioner Peg James said that while she may not personally approve of marijuana use, the commission represents the city and the majority who voted for it. Ross said the Planning Commission’s decision has to be not for them, but for the entire city.
“Whether you agree or disagree, that’s not necessarily the issue,” Ross said. “The issue is whether or not this is in the best interest of the city as a whole.”
Although Medical Lake could benefit from the sales tax revenue a facility would generate, Ross said there could be other issues for the city. He added that if the city passes an ordinance to allow a retail shop in the light industrial zone and the city decided to ban it a year later, the shop would be grandfathered in.
Commissioner Mark Hudson suggested that if the city banned marijuana, Medical Lake could be a refuge for people who do not want to live in a community that allows the drug.
“We could become an appealing place for people to relocate to say ‘I don’t want to be a part of that,’” Hudson said. “It’s a different way to look at it.”
James said that while she likes the idea, she does not see an influx of people coming to Medical Lake for that reason.
Ross said he had not heard from city attorney Cynthia McMullen on if the city can ban only retail outlets from inside city limits while still allowing a production or a processing facility.
“My gut feeling is yes,” Ross said. “It’s the state attorney general’s opinion so who knows how it will shake out in the courts.”
James said that it is tough for the Planning Commission to make a decision if they “don’t know what they can or can’t ban.” Ross said the commission could revisit the matter at the July 24 meeting, and he may bring a couple of draft ordinances for the commission at the next meeting — one banning marijuana and another allowing it in the light industrial area on South Graham Road.
“If you’re comfortable then maybe we’ll get a recommendation forwarded,” Ross said.
Al Stover can be reached at email@example.com.