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News / Clark County News

Camas seeks input from citizens on I-502

Moratorium will expire on April 14

By Heather Acheson, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 3, 2014, 4:00pm

The Camas City Council is interested in knowing exactly what citizens think about Initiative-502 and how its implementation should — or shouldn’t — impact the local community.

During last night’s Camas City Council meeting, Mayor Scott Higgins said he would like more information, so that he can gauge whether the community has a strong feeling about the issue one way or another.

“I don’t believe we’ve heard from a lot of our community yet,” he said. “I personally haven’t received much feedback at all as far as what course of action the community should take on that, and I think I’d really love it if we invited it.”

Alternately, Councilman Steve Hogan said he has been contacted by a number of Camas citizens, but would still like to hear more. He described his feelings about the implementation of Initiative 502 as “reluctant.”

“I have a reluctant point of view to — at the very least — move in with speed and authorize this activity,” he said. “I would rather be the last to the party than the first to the party.”

On Nov. 4, 2013, the City Council approved an emergency moratorium for all I-502-related uses. It will expire April 14.

On April 7, the City Council’s regular meeting agenda will include a vote on a potential moratorium extension along with a formal work plan that will lay the groundwork for a path forward.

That document would guide city staff as it researches potential zoning options for selling, growing and producing marijuana, and designate the need for public input in forms that could include hearings and open houses.

“That is what a work program is for, to have that public discussion, have dialogue and create zoning or create codes that would implement those kinds of uses,” said Community Development Director Phil Bourquin.

In January, the Washington State Attorney General issued the opinion that Initiative-502 does not preempt local jurisdictions from regulating marijuana selling, processing and growing within its own boundaries.

Several members of the Camas City Council expressed concerns about the impact the new regulations could have on the community.

Councilman Don Chaney, a retired Camas police chief, said he would like information about potential impacts on local law enforcement resources.

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“I’m still concerned that the state hasn’t yet taken action to provide some tax relief for us — it’s sort of the unfunded mandate, except this is by initiative petition,” he said. “Nevertheless, I would like to know what [Camas police], and maybe the law enforcement community in Clark County and statewide sees as new added responsibilities and burdens that they might face in their duties.”

Councilman Greg Anderson said hopes to hear from Camas School District officials, outlining their perspectives about how legalized marijuana could impact local youth.

The Liquor Control Board has allotted one retail marijuana license for Camas. A total of 15 are allowed in Clark County. There are no limits in state law on the number of marijuana producers, but there is a limit of two million square feet statewide that can be designated for marijuana plant canopy. There are no limits in state law on the number of processors.

In 2012, Washington voters approved I-502. It allows people 21 and older to possess and use marijuana-related paraphernalia and any combination of one ounce of usable marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana infused product in solid form or 72 ounces of marijuana infused product in liquid form.

New marijuana licenses cannot be issued to businesses located within 1,000 feet of the perimeter of elementary or secondary schools, playgrounds, recreation centers or facilities, childcare centers, public parks and transit centers, libraries and game arcades.

Columbian staff writer