Should Camas get into the marijuana business?
That is the question Camas Mayor Scott Higgins and the Camas City Council are hoping to hear the public’s response to during a hearing scheduled for Monday, May 19, at 7 p.m., at City Hall, 616 N.E. Fourth Ave.
Community input is being solicited regarding whether to allow marijuana retail sales, processing, manufacturing and growing facilities within city limits.
“We have been able to gather some of that information through first-hand conversations and emails, but we haven’t had an opportunity for the public to say: ‘Here is what I think,’” Higgins said. “We’d love to hear what their thoughts are. I think that will help the council make an informed decision that will best represent the values of Camas.”
On April 7, the City Council voted to extend a zoning moratorium relating to the establishment of marijuana production, processing and retail sales facilities to give city staff time to “review and determine the local implications of the state rules, and to assess impacts and potential liabilities under federal law, and to determine an appropriate regulatory framework under those laws.” The moratorium is an extension of one put into place in November 2013.
The Liquor Control Board has allotted one retail marijuana license for Camas. A total of 15 are allowed in Clark County.
There are no limits in state law on the number of marijuana producers, but there is a limit of two million square feet statewide that can be designated for marijuana plant canopy. There are no limits in state law on the number of processors.
Earlier this month, the Liquor Control Board released the results of its lottery for retail marijuana locations. Elkgard Enterprises, 319 N.E. Lechner St., ranked first for Camas.
Higgins said he and some members of the City Council have been contacted by the company’s representatives.
“I think they are aware of the concerns of the community,” Higgins said. “But they believe they can do this in a responsible way. They will have the opportunity to come to the public hearing too, and I hope they do.”
Following the public hearing city staff will develop a list of several zoning options for city council to consider, with the goal of adopting a regulatory ordinance prior to the new moratorium’s expiration on Oct. 21.
Higgins said he expects to see the issue resolved in Camas well before that time.
The city’s efforts are in response to Initiative-502, which was approved by voters in 2012. It allows people 21 and older to possess and use marijuana-related paraphernalia and any combination of one ounce of usable marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana infused product in solid form or 72 ounces of marijuana infused product in liquid form.
Higgins said he initially had concerns that the public had the perception that the city was trying to make possession and use of marijuana illegal.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “All we are trying to figure out is if Camas is going to be in the marijuana business.”