Marijuana businesses delayed in Marysville for up to a year
A 12-month moratorium on licenses for marijuana producers and retailers was passed by the Marysville City Council to give the city time to plan.
The Marysville City Council passed a 12-month moratorium on marijuana cultivation, processing and retail businesses during the Sept. 9 council meeting.
The moratorium is meant to give city leaders and staff enough time to study various options in response to the passing of Initiative 502.
The ordinance calls for an eight-month work plan to study the options and gather community opinion. The city’s Planning Commission could publish final recommendations by April 2014, so the city council could make their decision earlier than the 12-month deadline, according to city administrative officer Gloria Hirashima.
On June 24 the City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting collective gardens for medical marijuana users. This moratorium deals with retail and production facilities that are allowed by Initiative 502.
Some Marysville business owners interested in getting in on the ground floor of the new market spoke out at the meeting to suggest the council shorten its timeline.
The moratorium passed 5-1, with councilmember Rob Toyer casting the only dissenting vote.
Toyer was concerned that the council wouldn’t make their final decision until they were up against the deadline, as has happened in the past with the council, he said.
“I want to make it clear that I voted ‘No’ for this initiative, so it’s not like I’m all for it, but I want to respect the wishes of our three speakers and address their concern. I think if we put a twelve month length on [the moratorium] we’re just going to be sitting here twelve months from now having the same discussion,” he said.
Councilmember Jeffrey Vaughan was worried that compressing the timeline would leave citizens out of the discussion though. “People miss this kind of process and then when they get notified that one’s going in down the street, they’re in here with pitchforks and torches – kidding, of course -- but I really want to make sure there’s enough opportunity for our citizens to get as much information as they can from individuals like we’ve heard from tonight and opposing viewpoints as well,” he said.
Washington state voters passed Initiative 502 last year, which attempts to legalize the cultivation, processing and selling of marijuana for personal recreational use, although the substance remains illegal from the perspective of federal law.
The State Liquor Control Board was tasked with drafting the rules relating to marijuana businesses. The rules are planned to be effective by Nov. 16.
The Liquor Control Board plans for a 30-day window during which they will issue producer, processor and retailer licenses.
They plan to issue three retail licenses in the Marysville area, according to city attorney Grant Weed. There is no ‘opt-out’ clause for cities in Intitiative 502, so the Liquor Control Board is prepared to issue licenses even in cities with moratoriums or other regulations in place, reported the Seattle Times.
The current statewide rules require that marijuana businesses be at least 1,000 feet away from public schools, private schools, daycares, parks, libraries and transit centers.
The new market represents a huge new opportunity for Marysville’s tax revenues and for local business people, argued Roger Sullivan, a Marysville resident, business owner and entrepreneur.
“People across the state, across the nation and literally across the world are watching Washington and Colorado and looking at what many consider to be a modern day gold rush,” he said. “There are going to be millions of dollars that are going to be made in the state of Washington and the state of Colorado.”
One Marysville business owner who asked to remain anonymous estimates that her business alone would provide more than $100,000 of additional tax revenue to the city and provide employment for approximately 20 people.
She said the reason Initiative 502 passed was because voters recognized the value of a legal trade market.
“By allowing these operations to exist in the city, you’re going to encourage reputable businesspeople who say ‘wow, this is a new opportunity’ to take the lead on this,” she said. “If you forbid it, it’s still going to happen, just in the black market, and those reputable businesspeople are just going to go somewhere else. And what Marysville will have is just business as usual.”
She also supported a moratorium to give the city time to make its own regulations, but she thought 12 months would put the city’s businesses behind others.
Dave Mills, a Marysville resident and local realtor, said the reality of the situation is that many organizations and business people have been lining up for the opportunity.
“Since 502 has passed I can’t even tell you the amount of inquiry there has been industry wide in real-estate related businesses, mainly commercial...the company that I work for had a focus group on this.”
Mills admitted it is ‘odd’ to be talking about a substance that was taboo for so long.
“It’s very odd to have this conversation and I’m sure we all feel a little put off by it, and I do personally,” he said. However, Mills added, that that doesn’t change the fact that many business organizations are ready to jump at this new chance.
The city’s Planning Commission will be directed by the work plan to study the issue and eventually send their recommendations to the city council.