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Pacific City Council considering extending marijuana moratorium

Next Monday the Pacific City Council plans to talk about extending a moratorium on medical marijuana businesses in the city by an additional six months.

Also up for discussion: whether to add recreational pot businesses – which were made legal by the passage of I-502 – to the moratorium, which expires Feb. 12.

At its first workshop of the new year on Jan. 6, the council discussed the ramifications of I-502 then moved the issue forward to the next regular council meeting and a public hearing at an as-yet-undetermined date.

"One of the concerns right now that we have is — as everybody probably knows — we had a lapse in our moratorium at one point in time, and businesses did locate here between the end of one moratorium and beginning of another," City Planner Paula Wiech told the council on Monday.

Two medical marijuana businesses – Pacific Green Collective and Chronic Solutions – are open in the same business complex on Stewart Road in Pacific. Pacific Green, which opened during a lapse in the City's moratorium, has been operating for more than a year.

Chronic Solutions opened less than six months ago as a nonprofit, which is not required to obtain a business license from the City to operate.

An extension of the moratorium would allow the City more time to hammer out the rules.

"Right now our business license code says if it's illegal on a city, state or federal level, no license will be issued," Wiech said. "Then we come into the area of what if it's a nonprofit? I think it's important to include the recreational marijuana in the moratorium at this point and time while we see how things are settled on a legal level."

The Washington State Liquor Control Board – which oversees the production, processing and retailing of marijuana in the state – has received more than 5,000 applications for pot businesses.

Of those, 19 are applications from businesses seeking to operate in Pacific.

Eight of the applications are for Tier 2 production licenses, for wholesale plant growing operations of "between two thousand square feet and ten thousand square feet of dedicated plant canopy."

Nine are processor applications, which would allow for the packaging and labeling of marijuana and marijuana-infused products intended for sale to retail stores. Two applications for retail stores – one each in King and Pierce counties – were also received.

Although there is no limit on how many processor and production licenses will be issued by the state, the WSLCB has capped the retail license total at 334, with 17 at-large retail locations allotted for Pierce and 11 at-large slotted for King.

The WSLCB will hold a lottery to decide which applicants will receive retail licenses.

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