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City considering pot moratorium


Last updated 9/11/2013 at 10:55am

The city of Grand Coulee is wrestling with whether to declare a moratorium on the location of marijuana gardens or distribution businesses within the city limits.

The issue came up at the Sept. 3 city council meeting, and will likely come up again at the next meeting, Sept. 17.

Mayor Chris Christopherson got the ball rolling when he stated that marijuana was a “gateway” drug and he was against any consideration of growing or distribution of it.

Councilmember Erin Neilson asked if any moratorium would just be kicked down the road every six months or so. He said there ought to be some way to tap marijuana money so the city could “fix streets.”

Councilmember Paul Townsend said there ought to be some way to work with it and get some money out of it.

Councilmember David Tylor supported taking a good look at the money end of marijuana and stated, “We need to legislate the hell out of it.”

Councilmember Tammara Byers supported the mayor’s comment about marijuana being a “gateway” drug but didn’t participate in the discussions that followed. Councilmember Tim Alling didn’t comment on the issue.

Mayor Christopherson explained that any issue concerning marijuana would be a council decision, but he had just wanted the council to know his position on it.

The city hasn’t drafted any such ordinance to date, but is looking at one passed by the Bridgeport City Council on “…adopting a moratorium on the filing and acceptance of business licenses, permits, and/or development applications for, and the location of, land uses operating or conducting recreational or medical cannabis growth, production, processing, sales, and/or distribution businesses or operations, including collective gardens and dispensaries…”

In November, 2012, voters in the state of Washington approved Initiative 502, decriminalizing the possession, use and sale of a certain amount of cannabis by persons over 21 for recreational or non-medical purposes.

This counters federal law, which continues to declare such use as illegal.This has put many cities throughout the state in a difficult position as to what to do, but last month the U.S. Attorney General told Gov. Jay Inslee that the U.S. Justice Dept. would not try to stop the state from setting up a state-regulated system for growing marijuana and selling it to adults.

Councilmember Neilson asked whether passing a moratorium ordinance would just keep bringing the issue up every six months.


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