City Council will discuss I-502 strategy

Camas moratorium expires April 14

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In early 2014, the Camas City Council is expected to begin considering how it will handle the new reality of legalized recreational marijuana in Washington.

In November, the council passed a moratorium relating to Initiative-502, the voter-approved measure that legalized recreational marijuana sale and use.

The City Council’s action puts into place through April 14 a zoning moratorium on the establishment, location, operation, maintenance or continuation of marijuana retail sales, processing, manufacturing and growing facilities.

During the City Council’s Dec. 16 meeting, no comments were made by citizens during a public hearing on the moratorium.

Assistant City Attorney David Schultz said reactions to I-502 by the state’s cities and counties have been varied. Some have openly welcomed the changes that have come along with the new law. Others plan to litigate the issue to try to keep the drug out of their communities.

“It presents a very rapidly changing legal framework, as well as a moral framework,” he said. “That makes this an interesting issue and one that is going to draw a lot of attention.”

Councilman Steve Hogan suggested the city explore all of its options.

“I am wondering out loud if it might be wiser for the communities of Camas and Washougal to perhaps partner to have some sort of a collaborative control over the growing and distributing, and a way to regulate it,” he said.

Hogan admitted, however, that he isn’t sure of the best course of action.

“I will tell you it sends a shiver down my spine to even think about us stepping into that,” he said. “But it also makes me nervous to think who could step up and perhaps control one of those growing areas somewhere in the Camas or Washougal area, and how secure they would be.”

The City Council will discuss the issue during its annual planning conference Jan. 24 and 25, at the Lacamas Lake Lodge and Conference Center.

According to Mayor Scott Higgins, during the moratorium period the city attorney and city staff would be working to gather the necessary information so that the City Council can develop a strategy.

“We have more questions than we have answers to, at this point,” he said. “That is part of the reason for the moratorium, so that we can hope to get some of these answers. We’ll get some clarity during the moratorium that will help you all in forming a path forward for this community, as far as that policy is concerned.”