Washougal eyes marijuana moratorium or ban

Public hearing will be held May 27

Washougal residents will have an opportunity to comment on a potential extension of a moratorium and/or a ban regarding the retail sale, processing and growing of recreational marijuana within the city limits.

A public hearing will be held during the next regular City Council meeting Tuesday, May 27, at 7 p.m., at City Hall, 1701 “C” St.

The council approved an emergency ordinance on Dec. 2, 2013, regarding the establishment of retail businesses that sell marijuana. It establishes a six-month moratorium prohibiting all uses allowed under state Initiative 502. That ordinance is set to expire June 2.

I-502, approved by the majority of participating voters in the state in 2012, allows individuals 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.

Individuals are subject to criminal prosecution for possession in amounts greater than that or possession of any quantity or kind by a person younger than 21.

At Washougal precincts, 3,114 voters affirmed I-502 (50.02 percent), while 3,112 people voted against it (49.98 percent).

Joseph Drew, of Washougal, told City Council members during last night’s meeting, he is against “any drugs in society.”

He mentioned some high school students are cutting class and smoking marijuana near his yard.

Drew referred to a list of city values posted in the council chambers.

The list includes “safe community.”

“There should be no drugs, never ever in our town, never ever,” Drew said.

The council voted 6 to 0, to schedule a public hearing regarding a potential moratorium extension and/or a ban.

“The city does not need moratorium extensions or debate,” Drew said during a second public comment period. “Marijuana is illegal. Outlaw it, period, in our city.”

Councilman Brent Boger abstained from voting regarding the public hearing.

“I do not support a ban, but it’s more honest than rolling moratoriums,” he said during a council workshop.

“Half of the voters [in Washougal] voted for 502,” Boger added. “Their views need to be considered.”

Councilwoman Connie Jo Freeman said she supported the continuous passage of moratorium extensions until state and federal entities agree.

“You can’t do that legally,” said City Administrator David Scott.

Councilwoman Jennifer McDaniel said she does not want to see recreational marijuana businesses in Washougal, and she would consider a ban.

Councilman Paul Greenlee said he favored extending the moratorium, at least until September.

Freeman described marijuana as a “gateway drug.”

“I lived through the 1960s,” she said. “We at this table watched a lot of our friends and family go really far down that path.”

Councilwoman Joyce Lindsay said even if a ban on the production, processing and retail sale of recreational marijuana is put into effect in Washougal, residents could still purchase marijuana in another city and smoke it in Washougal.