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Oak Harbor weighs moratorium on pot stores
Kyle Stevens requests a $240 “donation” for his best product, a pain-numbing and sleep-inducing strain of marijuana called “blue dream.”
While legalization of recreational marijuana businesses could threaten his bottom line and the medical marijuana industry in general, Stevens said he was pleased when voters passed Initiative 502.
He was downright happy when the federal government announced Thursday that it won’t challenge the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana.
Stevens is Oak Harbor’s go-to guy for medical marijuana.
He and his partner started Island Green Co-op a year ago to provide “quick, discrete” delivery of marijuana to many dozens of people suffering from any number of maladies.
His “patients,” he said, include 20-somethings with anorexia, an 87-year-old woman looking for pain relief and many kinds of people in between.
Stevens said he hopes to see someone open a pot store in Oak Harbor someday.
“I would love it,” he said. “I think a lot of people would be better off if there was easier access to marijuana.”
Stevens and other pot enthusiasts will have to wait at least six months if the Oak Harbor City Council adopts a pair of proposed moratoriums preventing establishment of both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana cultivation and sale.
Neither proposal would affect existing medical marijuana operations.
Interim City Attorney Grant Weed joked about his own name when he addressed the council members about the pot legalization during a workshop Wednesday.
“It’s not my fault, it’s my parents’ fault,” he said.
Weed explained that the law created by I-502 comes with many restrictions, including a 1,000-foot perimeter between marijuana-related businesses and such facilities as schools, playgrounds, parks, child care facilities, transit stations, libraries and game arcades.
But, he said, the law largely left zoning decisions up to local jurisdictions.
Weed said some cities have already passed adopted restrictions related to recreational marijuana businesses. The City of Kent, for example, passed an ordinance banning all recreational marijuana businesses, including producers, processors and retailers. “My advice to all cities I represent is, if you are going to adopt regulations, sooner is better.”
The options, he said, are to rely on existing rules, enact a criminal ban, create interim regulations, adopt permanent regulations or adopt a moratorium to give the city “breathing room.”
Development Services Director Steve Powers said city staff is recommending a six-month moratorium on both medical and recreational ventures to give planners time to study the issue. He noted in an interview that the state Liquor Control Board is still developing regulations for businesses.
“By mid-October, we should know what the rules are,” he said.
As for Stevens, he is also taking a wait-and-see approach. He said he may be interested in starting a recreational business of his own someday, but he wants to learn from the successes and failures of the pot pioneers.
He said Oak Harbor may not be the best place for such a business, given the large population of military personnel who work under federal law and aren’t allowed to partake of the herb. Still, he estimates that as many as 1,000 people in the city receive medical marijuana.
“I find new people every day who are looking to get medical marijuana,” he said.