Puyallup and Sumner are taking different approaches to regulations for marijuana-related businesses that will be allowed under voter-approved Initiative 502.
On Oct. 1, the Puyallup City Council put into effect a six-month moratorium on marijuana-related businesses within city limits. The moratorium is set to expire March 31.
Deputy City Attorney Steve Kirkelie said the moratorium was established to allow the city time to adjust zoning code changes that would restrict where marijuana-related businesses could be located.
“We’ve tried to follow the state law,” Kirkelie said. “I-502 has created a 1,000-foot buffer. Marijuana-related businesses cannot be within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and daycare centers. We’ve used that as the basis for our zoning regulations.”
Kirkelie said the city also is considering whether a buffer should be established between commercial zones and residential zones.
“Our proposed regulations are limited to commercial, industrial and agricultural zones, which is consistent with state law,” Kirkelie said.
Kirkelie said the city has received one application for a marijuana-related business so far. Business licenses can be either for retailers, producers or processors. He said the city has denied the application because of its moratorium.
The Puyallup Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing tonight at 7 in city council chambers on the proposed zoning changes.
“After the hearing, the planning commission will deliberate and talk through the issues,” Kirkelie said.
He added the planning commission will either pass it on to the city council for approval, or it may decide to push it back to city staff members to make changes.
Kirkelie said the city council will “definitely be considering this issue before March 31.”
Meanwhile, Sumner City Attorney Brett Vinson said the city will prohibit all marijuana-related businesses.
“We have a business code that says business licenses need to comply with state and federal law,” he said.
Vinson said Sumner is aligning with the state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose opinion stated that any local government could effectively ban a marijuana business from its jurisdiction.
Sumner is going the way of Lakewood and also Pierce County. Lakewood City Attorney Heidi Ann Wachter has told the city council that any business license must follow local, state and federal laws. Pierce County officials have said it will align with federal law.
Kirkelie said the state attorney general’s opinion is not binding.
“The state attorney general opinion doesn’t say one approach is wrong and another is right,” he said. “It just says that local government has a choice (of) how they want to deal with that.”
The state Liquor Control Board has allocated 31 retail businesses in Pierce County. Two will be allowed in Puyallup.
Brian Smith, communications director for the Liquor Control Board, said half the state’s cities and jurisdictions have moratoria in place.
“Moving forward, it has not been decided how to address moratoriums or bans,” Smith said. “We are issuing licenses in March, and stores are opening in June.”
Smith said the Liquor Control Board currently has more than 7,000 marijuana-related business applications, and more are expected.
Only 334 marijuana-related businesses will be allowed in the state, he said. Most cities have exceeded the application limit.
A lottery will be conducted to finalize which applications will get approved.