Vancouver council OKs moratorium on pot

No one can apply for city retail license until June 30

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

Published:

 

Would-be marijuana retailers who want to capitalize on the will of the voters will have to wait until June 30 to apply for a city permit.

The Vancouver City Council unanimously on Monday approved a moratorium against the licensing of any marijuana retail sales facility pursuant to Initiative 502, which legalized possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana for adults ages 21 and older.

Earlier this month, the Washington State Liquor Control Board approved a series of supplemental rules to guide the adoption of a system to grow, process and sell marijuana. The board capped the maximum number of pot shops statewide at 334 and said Clark County could be home to up to 15 marijuana retailers by the time the state starts doling out licenses to legal pot sellers next spring.

Six of those stores can be within Vancouver city limits. The moratorium gives the city more time to set zoning restrictions.

The liquor control board, which considered population when allocating stores, approved another half-dozen shops for unincorporated Clark County, and one store apiece for Camas, Washougal and Battle Ground.

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.

30 inquiries

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

Also under the city's interim standards, people who receive state licenses to grow and process marijuana will be able to do so in light and heavy industrial districts. Those are the same zones where the council voted last year to limit medical marijuana collective gardens.

Anyone who wants to grow or process marijuana under I-502 needs to comply with all applicable building and fire code regulations and zoning regulations and provide a copy of their state-issued license, according to the ordinance approved by the council.

The city has received approximately 30 emails and telephone inquiries on possible locations for marijuana facilities, according to a memo from City Manager Eric Holmes.

Earlier, the state said it would begin issuing licenses Dec. 1, but that date may be pushed back to March, Holmes wrote.

In August, the U.S. Department of Justice said it would not sue Washington, Colorado or other states that wish to legalize marijuana so long as it's sufficiently regulated.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com