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City Council passes moratorium on marijuana retail licenses

Pullman+City+Council+members+discuss+marijuana+retail+licences+at+City+Hall+Tuesday%2C+Sept.+24%2C+2013
Pullman City Council members discuss marijuana retail licences at City Hall Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013

Pullman City Council members discuss marijuana retail licences at City Hall Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013

Sulaiman Ambusaidi

Sulaiman Ambusaidi

Pullman City Council members discuss marijuana retail licences at City Hall Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013

Zack Briggs, Evergreen reporter

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Prospective marijuana merchants looking to set up shop in Pullman must wait until March to apply for a retail license.

The Pullman City Council unanimously approved an ordinance last night to implement a six-month moratorium against the production, processing and selling of recreational use marijuana.

“The City of Pullman would not accept applications for city licenses to open during the moratorium due to a possible influx of regulations in the marijuana laws,” said City Attorney Laura McAloon.

Planning Director Pete Dickinson said the moratorium is a way for the city officials to conduct more research and analyze potential modifications to the marijuana regulations in the coming months.

“Everything that was allowed by Initiative 502 is put on hold,” Dickinson said.

Earlier this month, the Washington State Liquor Control Board put forth its recommendations on how to limit and regulate marijuana operations. Recently the board has made some changes to its proposed set of laws to regulate marijuana statewide. Public hearings are scheduled for Oct. 9-10 in Spokane and Seattle.

Dickinson said the Pullman Planning Commission may form city marijuana laws based off the Liquor Control Board’s suggestions. 

“We’ll be paying close attention to those because that will be the guidelines that we will use to set up our own regulations,” he said.

The Planning Commission has already begun to establish city measures in regard to future marijuana activity, Dickinson said. He is confident many of the rules currently written in the draft will end up final.

One concern raised came from council member Nathan Weller, who questioned outdoor marijuana facilities.

“Having an outdoor production facility, you’re going to run into the fact that when the plant flowers, how do you make sure that doesn’t go into developed land,” Weller said.

He believes the City Council’s approval of a moratorium will allow for in-depth analysis of the marijuana regulations from a state to local level. 

“With the Washington law, we are moving forward, but we want to make sure we do in a proper way,” Weller said.

McAloon said up to three marijuana vendors are feasible to exist in Pullman by mid-June.

With marijuana retailers on Pullman’s horizon, Mayor Glenn Johnson said the six-month halt will allow for the State Liquor Control Board to settle with definitive laws.

“This is all new territory, so instead of just doing some kind of rash decision and saying we’ll do this and then have it backfire later on, let’s go through the process, and so this way, it gives the planning (commission) a way to do that,” Johnson said.

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City Council passes moratorium on marijuana retail licenses