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Pot moratorium to blaze on for six more months
The City of Bremerton is set to extend a moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens for another six months.
The city first instituted a six-month moratorium in September and then again in February The current moratorium is set to expire Aug. 31.
Allison Daniels, from the city’s Department of Community Development (DCD), said this week that she and other staffers are looking to other cities and counties for some direction on what has been a complicated issue.
“Some cities are adopting codes and paving the way for every everyone else and other cities are continuing to adopt moratoriums,” Daniels said. “We’d like to get this off our desk and have the decision be made.”
That decision, though, likely won’t come for another six months.
Daniels said that cities such as Seattle, Tacoma, Shoreline, Port Orchard and Kent are struggling to come to terms with conflicting state and federal laws, but have taken various steps to move forward rather than continuing to pass moratoriums. In 2011, the Legislature passed a bill updating medical marijuana laws. Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed portions of the bill, but left alone its governing of collective medical marijuana gardens.
The advice city leaders continue to get from Bremerton City Attorney Roger Lubovich is that federal law makes marijuana illegal in all cases.
Daniels said that dealing with permitting, zoning and other issues has been a priority in the last six months, but more time is needed to see “what other cities are doing and what kind of litigation is out there so that we can have a complete plan to present to the council.”
Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent, though, said that the moratorium “snuck up on us” because DCD was dealing with shoreline issues, moving forward with South Kitsap Industrial Area planning and other issues.
“Time got away from us and we said, ‘Oh my gosh, we haven’t done enough research to complete zoning of medical marijuana grows,” Lent said. “We didn’t have enough time. That’s why we decided to put this off and extend it. To determine if there could be permitting, zoning and how it would be regulated.”
In addition, Lent said that Lubovich, who is out of town for a couple of weeks, has consistently cautioned the council about creating local rules for a federally prohibited substance.
“(Lubovich) has always said that marijuana is a federal offense,” Lent said. “So, even if the state says gardens are OK, the feds could arrest them for growing marijuana.”
Lent acknowledged that the city has collective gardening, such as at Blueberry Park, but noted that growing vegetables to eat is different than growing marijuana because the latter is federally prohibited.
“We’re very urbanized and it can be tough to carve out areas or determine if a yard would need to be a certain size,” she added. “When people wanted chickens, we allowed them to have them, but we also had people that didn’t want