Cities place moratorium on collective marijuana gardens

Public hearings on the issue are set for Sept. 6

The Camas and Washougal City Councils last night approved a six-month moratorium on establishing or operating marijuana collective gardens or dispensaries within city limits.

The move was made in reaction to an Act passed by the Legislature two months ago that allows certain qualifying medical marijuana patients to have the ability to come together to collectively cultivate medical marijuana.

The Act is scheduled to go into effect Friday.

Collective gardens permit qualifying patients to produce, grow and deliver up to 45 cannabis plants to serve no more than 10 qualifying patients for medical use.

According to Camas City Attorney Sean MacPherson, the moratorium will allow the city time to consider and address issues including zoning, health and safety regulations, placement issues, business taxes and regulations, and other issues relevant to establishing a collective marijuana garden.

Camas approved the resolution 5 to 0.

“This is in reaction to a Senate bill that we were not consulted on…” said Mayor Scott Higgins. “We are making sure the implications to Camas are considered and measured.”

City Administrator Lloyd Halverson said the City of Camas has not had any inquiries about establishing a collective marijuana garden.

“No matter if we are for or against this kind of thing, it’s always good for Camas to be professional in what we do,” Camas Councilman Steve Hogan said. “Implementing the moratorium gives our staff the time to put a well thought out strategy together so that we can re-examine it in the future.”

Washougal City Council approved the resolution 5 to 1, with Michael Delavar casting the dissenting vote. While he said the moratorium “makes sense,” he added that he didn’t feel enough time was given for Council to understand the issue.

“I got this at 3:30 this afternoon,” he said regarding the printed agenda bill. “It is not on the city website. It is unwise to pass it without reading it. I am voting ‘no’ because of the lack of notification to the public.”

Washougal Councilman Paul Greenlee said he was convinced it is an emergency situation.

“I would hate to see someone start a marijuana grow operation on Thursday and then be ‘grandfathered in,'” he said.

The Clark County Commissioners approved a similar moratorium last week, and the Vancouver City Council followed suit last night.

The public will get a chance to weigh in on the moratorium issue during upcoming hearings, which have been set for Tuesday, Sept. 6 at the City Hall buildings in each jurisdiction. Washougal’s will begin at 6 p.m., while Camas’s is set for 7 p.m.

An initiative passed by voters in 1998 allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Reporter Dawn Feldhaus contributed to this article.