The city of Spokane Valley is looking to further snuff out unlicensed pot businesses within its borders.
While the city currently has a moratorium on unlicensed marijuana stores from opening, the City Council is expected to adopt new rules later this year that will allow for the sale of medicinal pot at stores operated by current licensed retailers who receive a medical marijuana endorsement. That would mean all recreational and medical retail sales would be treated the same under the city’s land-use regulations, including zoning and buffer requirements.
The council adopted the moratorium late last year in order to give state legislators time to reconcile medical marijuana rules with those imposed in the wake of Initiative 502 and the state-controlled legalization of recreational pot sales. With the passage of the Cannabis Patient Protection Act and House Bill 2136, licensed sellers will now be able to sell medical marijuana if they receive a state endorsement.
With three licensed pot sellers already in the city limits – plus additional ones outside of Spokane Valley – legal staff members told council members at Tuesday’s study session that there will be plenty of places for customers to go.
“We don’t believe there is a dearth or lack of access to marijuana,” Erik Lamb, deputy city attorney, told the council.
Unlicensed sellers will have to comply with the new rules or shut down by July 2016, he added.
The proposed amended rules will be studied by the Planning Commission next month, with the council members likely having final approval in October or early November – plenty of time before the moratorium expires in December.
City staffers are also recommending prohibiting marijuana cooperatives in Spokane Valley. Cooperatives allow up to 60 plants in a residential home and are more popular in areas where licensed retail shops are not close by. However, qualified patients or designated providers could be allowed to grow their own plants provided its done in an enclosed structure, such as a greenhouse or shop.
Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard said he hopes the state doesn’t license any more retail shops to open in Spokane Valley.
“I don’t see where we need any more access (to marijuana),” he said. “It’s already negatively affecting law enforcement.”
Existing rules that require licensed pot sellers to not be located within 1,000 feet of municipal property, libraries, schools or trails are not expected to change.