Washougal extends pot-garden moratorium

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Washougal will extend a six-month moratorium on collective gardens for growing medical marijuana.

With a unanimous vote Monday, councilmembers decided to push back drafting a local zoning ordinance for the gardens to await answers surrounding last year’s passage of Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana.

Marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Justice have warned collective marijuana growers and cities that the state statute conflicts with federal laws. The Legislature approved collective gardens in 2011 as a means to provide medical marijuana cardholders a way to legally cultivate pot.

Fear of city employees or officials violating federal laws motivated city leaders to extend the moratorium Monday.

“The thing that makes everything else irrelevant for me is that under federal law, if a city employee were to issue a (collective garden) license the city employee is subject to a felony for facilitating a drug offense,” Councilman Paul Greenlee said. “That’s absolutely unacceptable”

Although many Clark County cities have also extended their moratoriums on the gardens, citing the same concerns, Vancouver voted to allow marijuana gardens in certain zones following a 6-1 vote late last year.