Pacific ponders ordinances on marijuana businesses

The Pacific City Council on July 9 heard what residents had to say about a trio of possible City ordinances that would regulate recreational and medical marijuana businesses within city limits.

As proposed, the ordinances would lay down requirements for any recreational marijuana businesses in the community, including retail, processing and production facilities, and potentially ban medical marijuana businesses.

The first of the ordinances under consideration would add chapter 5.12 to the Pacific Municipal Code, laying out the regulations for licensing recreational businesses in the city, including penalties for violating the proposed code.

The ordinance would work hand-in-hand with the already established Washington State Liquor Control Board's rules for recreational marijuana businesses and specify where a business could be located. It directs that businesses be located at least 1,000 feet away from schools, playgrounds, recreational centers, child cares, public parks, public transit centers, libraries or game arcades. It would ban processors, producers or retail recreational pot businesses everywhere except in light industrially-zoned areas in the Pierce County portion of the city.

Chapter 5.12 of the code would establish security requirements and procedures necessary to deal with any disturbances or unlawful activity. It states: "The City of Pacific Police Department must be notified of all disorderly acts, conduct or disturbances and all unlawful activities, which occur on and within the premises of this licensed establishment."

In addition, the new regulations would require the businesses to control the visibility of activities and the emissions of any odors, smoke, debris, dust, fluids or other substances.

The second proposed ordinance would add a new chapter (20.78) to the City code, requiring recreational pot businesses to obtain licensing from the WSLCB in addition to a city business license and a conditional use permit. The new chapter would reiterate Chapter 5.12's location restrictions and indemnify the city from any liability regarding the businesses.

The third ordinance, if passed, would add Chapter 20.79 to the city's municipal code, thus placing an outright ban on any medical marijuana businesses in Pacific.

The ban would prohibit any medical marijuana dispensaries or businesses, including collective medical gardens, until "such time as the City Council has made a finding that the Washington State Legislature has adopted a regulatory and enforcement system for medical marijuana uses that satisfies the enforcement priorities established by the federal government."

The ban also would encompass delivery of medical marijuana within city limits.

Pacific has four medical marijuana dispensaries operating, all without business licenses.

The City Council discusses the ordinances at a July 21 workshop. A vote could come as early as the July 28 regularly-scheduled meeting.

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