With over a month into a year-long city of Spokane Valley moratorium on all new marijuana businesses – excluding those regulated by the Washington state Liquor Control Board – several told the City Council on Tuesday to consider further restrictions.
In December, the council passed the emergency ordinance in the hope city staffers could study ways to deal with unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries and “vapor lounges” not currently regulated by the LCB. Currently, there are bills working their way through legislation in Olympia that could also help clarify the issue in the future.
The moratorium does not affect those businesses already operating in the city or recreational marijuana production, processing or retail sales, which are regulated by the LCB.
On Tuesday the council held the required public hearing on the moratorium, with about two-thirds in support of the moratorium.
“You represent the morality of the community whether you like it or not,” Dan Clark told the council.
George McGrath also said he was in favor of restrictions, but “if someone has medical condition, that should be considered.”
The moratorium does not impact marijuana use of qualified patients.
There were those who spoke in favor of loosening restrictions on pot-centric businesses during the hour of testimony. Tera Harrison told the council it was acting out of ignorance and that the nationwide legalization of marijuana “is going to happen” and that the city is missing out on tax revenue.
“The way the Valley is looking at this is old-school,” Harrison said.
City staffers will present findings of fact for the moratorium at a future City Council meeting for adoption.
In other news, the council OK’d the city’s continued participation in the state’s Commute Trip Reduction Program. Earlier this month, several council members expressed chagrin over perceived heavy-handedness by the governor’s office, which has called for continued carbon-emission reductions across Washington.
After a lengthy staff presentation on Tuesday touting the benefits of participation – the city has won awards for its efforts and has received grant dollars from the Department of Transportation – two council members said they would vote for approval. That broke a potential 3-3 tie, which would have resulted in the motion not passing, as Council Member Bill Bates has been absent while undergoing cancer treatment.
Council Member Ed Pace, however, remained the lone holdout.
“It’s just another example of government getting too big,” he said.
Mayor Dean Grafos countered, however, that it didn’t make sense for the city to vote against something the city was already doing at minimal cost and that several Valley businesses were already participating in without complaint.
“If we vote against this, we’re for more traffic congestion and gas consumption,” he said.