Vancouver looks to delay permits for pot sales

Public hearing on the issue set for next month

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter



Public meeting

■ Who: Vancouver City Council.

■ What: Temporary moratorium on land-use permits for marijuana sales.

■ When: 7 p.m. Sept 16.

■ Where: City Hall, 415 W. Sixth St.

■ Information:

The state will start issuing licenses Dec. 1 to applicants who wish to grow, process or sell marijuana under Initiative 502, but the Vancouver City Council on Monday indicated it will slow down the process for people who wish to sell locally.

The council will have a public hearing, 7 p.m. Sept. 16 at City Hall, on a temporary moratorium that would prohibit would-be sellers from applying for a city land-use permit until after June 30, 2014.

The voter-approved measure legalizes possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana for adults ages 21 and older. People need to apply to the state for a license to grow, process or sell marijuana, and local jurisdictions may restrict where those businesses are allowed.

The state already says the businesses must be at least 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds, recreation centers, child care centers, public parks, transit centers, libraries and arcades.

In December, the council voted to limit medical marijuana collective gardens -- which aren't part of I-502 -- to light industrial and heavy industrial districts, even though people testified the rules were too restrictive. The gardens must also be 1,000 feet away from schools, community centers, parks, childcare centers and other collective gardens. The rules took effect in January, and principal planner Bryan Snodgrass said so far no known medical marijuana collective gardens have been established.

The demand for recreational marijuana businesses under I-502 is difficult to estimate, Snodgrass said.

The city has received about two dozen emails and phone calls inquiring about where it will be legal

to buy and use marijuana, he said.

Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt asked City Attorney Ted Gathe where people can smoke marijuana, and Gathe said it must be done in the privacy of a home, or at least not in a public place. Councilor Larry Smith said he was asked by someone if people can smoke pot in an RV.

Not if they are the driver, Gathe said.

Adopting the moratorium on retail facilities would give the city additional time to develop zoning standards and receive more guidance from the state, Snodgrass said.

Under interim standards, people who receive state licenses would be able to grow and process marijuana in light and heavy industrial districts.

Tentatively, retail sales of marijuana will be allowed in community and general commercial zones, so long as they meet the state's 1,000 feet setback requirements.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or