Because there are many questions and few answers, the Roy City Council on Monday adopted an emergency moratorium of six months “on the siting, establishment and operation of any structures or uses relating to marijuana.”
Ordinance No. 897 relates to marijuana’s production, processing, retailing or issuance of businesses in the city. A public hearing was held, but no citizens attended to speak on the matter.
The ordinance will be in effect until Roy adopts zoning regulations addressing said uses. The six-month extension gives time for the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) to complete its rulemaking, according to the ordinance’s findings of fact, written by Roy City Attorney Cathy Parker.
Because no members of the public spoke against whether or not the moratorium should be extended, a second reading was waved.
The WSLCB, which will regulate and tax legally consumed marijuana, is expected to announce its ruling by Dec. 1. Due to the uncertainty, the Roy Planning Commission cannot study and complete its work to date, according to the findings of fact.
Ordinance 857 has to do with Initiative 502, which was passed in November 2012. According to the I-502 fact sheet, it, among other things, legalizes the possession of marijuana for ages 21 and older; marijuana will be available in stores that sell no other products, and are located at least 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds and parks; Washington farmers and businesses will be allowed to apply for special licenses to grow and sell marijuana; and selling to minors remains a felony.
Parker, in the findings of fact, wrote U.S. Attorney Eric Holder and his staff left many things unclear, including whether the city of Roy “may enforce marijuana regulations, issue permits for marijuana retailing, processing, or production, handle the personal marijuana of persons seized on other grounds, and in other ways involved itself with marijuana that is criminal activity under federal law.”
Parker noted another issue is the city’s responsibility to the federal government under law, “which has not been explained how the feds are going to handle that. Nor have they determined how they’re going to deal with the fact that credit card carriers and banks are not allowed under federal law to accept money from a retailer who’s selling marijuana.”
Many other problems also exist, said Parker, such as how do police handle cash-only facilities on the premise?
“Those are all issues that will also still be (discussed) during the moratorium while still at the same time continuing as if we were going to do the regulations,” Parker said. “And that way, if we determine that it’s OK for us to continue to implement the state rules, then we will.”
At this time, nobody knows the answers to those questions. But, within two months, the WSLCB intends to make its decision.
All council members were in favor of the moratorium, yet Councilor Dean Lloyd was the main person who voiced his opinion. Lloyd said the federal government is against everything regarding marijuana, so there’s no reason for the Council to take any other action at this time.
Roy Mayor Karen Yates agrees, noting it would be hard to say, “‘This is what the city’s going to do’ when the people above us that make those rules haven’t clarified it yet.”
“Nobody wants to commit to doing anything in the state because federally it’s against the law,” Lloyd said. “And how the state level and the feds work with new laws introduced to the state, I really don’t know how that works. But I know the feds have their nose up to it and they’re not for it.
“With that being said,” he added, “from my end of it I would say … wait and see what the feds are going to do, I really would, because the feds aren’t going to tell you nothing except you’re under arrest if they catch you with a joint in your hand.”