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Port Orchard Council Sets Moratorium on Marijuana Dispensaries

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PORT ORCHARD – The Port Orchard City Council on Tuesday passed an "emergency" moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, effective immediately.

The ordinance, which will be in effect for six months, will allow the council time to see what happens with legislation on dispensaries that is pending in Olympia, council members said. The moratorium also will allow them to consider zoning rules for dispensaries should they become legal.

"I definitely think we should do this, because this issue is not going to go away," Councilwoman Carolyn Powers said.

No medical marijuana dispensaries currently operate in the city, but the owners of at least two planned dispensaries have said they would like to locate in Port Orchard.

Lori A. Kent, a co-owner of Mari Meds in Belfair, told he council on Feb. 15 that she and her partner Robert Wood would like to open a second storefront in their city.

Dave Norton, who formerly owned Green Health in Tacoma and Key Center, on Feb. 17 said he already had signed a lease for a space in the Bayside Plaza on Bay Street where he had planned to open a new dispensary, Bella Oha. News that the council was considering a moratorium caught him off guard.

Police Chief Al Townsend said his department also has heard from the owner of a building at 944 Bay St. that a tenant planned a dispensary there. Some renovation activity appeared to be under way in the former convenience store, but has since ceased, Townsend said.

The ordinance halts "the acceptance or processing of any applications for building or land use activities relating to a medical marijuana business or dispensary, or facilities within which a medical marijuana business or dispensary will be operated."

The moratorium includes processing of business licenses, and also applies to dispensaries operated without a physical storefront.

"Certainly the staff at this table believe this is a sensible way to go at this time," said City Attorney Greg Jacoby, referring to himself, the city clerk, development director and other senior staffers. "Other cities in Kitsap County are watching to see the direction we go on this."

The use of medical marijuana has been legal in Washington since 1998, but current laws are contradictory on how patients are to legally obtain the drug.

Townsend has said his department believes the law makes dispensaries illegal. A bill being considered by the state Senate would essentially legalize dispensaries and allow cities to control where they are located.

Voting for the ordinance were Powers and councilmen Rob Putaansuu, Jerry Childs, John Clauson, Jim Colebank and Fred Olin. Councilman Fred Chang was absent.

A public hearing on the ordinance is set for March 22. State law allows "emergency" legislation to be enacted before such a hearing is held.

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Source: kitsapsun.com
Author: Chris Henry
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Kitsap Sun
Website: Port Orchard council sets moratorium on marijuana dispensaries
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