Pubdate: Fri, 06 Jan 2012
Source: Daily Record, The (Ellensburg, WA)
Copyright: 2012 The Daily Record
Author: Barb Owens, staff writer


Ellensburg's moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries has been
expanded for an additional six months, and the city's interim zoning
regulations on medical marijuana collective gardens also have been

The Ellensburg City Council voted for the extensions at its Tuesday
meeting after a combined public hearing was held on both topics. No
one commented during the public hearing Tuesday.

In 2011 the state Legislature passed a law permitting medical
marijuana patients to create and participate in cannabis collective
gardens. Local governments were permitted to adopt their own zoning

In August the Ellensburg City Council adopted emergency regulations
while more comprehensive, permanent rules are established for
collective gardens.

Without interim regulations, collective gardens could operate in the
city without restriction, leading to the establishment of gardens in
locations that might later be restricted in permanent regulations set
forth by the Council.

The extended rules approved Tuesday by the Council do not include the
permit system that was originally adopted in August.

City Attorney Jim Pidduck said that it is problematic to have a city
permit system that regulates medical marijuana when it is still
illegal under federal law. Only one person has received a permit from
the city.

Council member Tony Aronica proposed an amendment that would include
churches and city parks in the 300-foot buffer zone because they
should operate under the presumption that they're youth oriented. In
the regulations, a 300-foot buffer zone is established around schools
and youth-oriented facilities. The gardens also must be indoors and
not visible from a public place.

Churches and parks were included in the original draft ordinance in
August, but Council removed that language because there are many
churches and parks in Ellensburg, and if you drew 300-foot circles
around them all, it would black out most of the city.

Aronica, Morgan and Council member Nancy Lillquist voted in favor of
adding churches and parks to the buffer zone. Council members Rich
Elliott, Jill Arango, David Miller and Mayor Bruce Tabb voted against
the amendment. The motion failed.

The Council voted in favor of extending the zoning regulations for
collective gardens. Aronica voted no.

The Council unanimously voted in favor of extending the moratorium on
marijuana dispensaries. Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed parts of last
year's medical marijuana legislation, including provisions related to
marijuana dispensaries, creating confusion about whether they are
legal under state law.

Until the state Legislature adopts regulations, the moratorium in
Ellensburg will allow the city to watch this year's legislative
session and determine whether dispensaries are allowed under existing
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