College Place puts off pot rulemaking

College Place has become the third entity in Walla Walla County to adopt a moratorium on marijuana operations.

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COLLEGE PLACE — College Place has become the third entity in Walla Walla County to adopt a moratorium on marijuana operations.

The City Council voted unanimously Monday to adopt a one-year moratorium on zoning and land use regulations for growing, processing or selling pot inside city limits. The measure passed 5-0 with two council members absent.

Timeline for marijuana legalization in Washington state

Nov. 6, 2012 — Washington voters approve Initiative 502 to decriminalize marijuana possession and use for recreational purposes. Colorado voters approve Amendment 64, which is similar.

Dec. 6, 2012 — I-502 goes into effect.

Aug. 29 — In response to the Washington and Colorado initiatives, U.S. Attorney General issues memorandum setting guidelines for federal prosecutors concerning marijuana enforcement under the Controlled Substances Act.

Oct. 8-9 — Public hearings in Seattle and Spokane on proposed rules for growing, processing and selling recreational marijuana.

Oct. 16 — Washington State Liquor Control Board to adopt or reject proposed rules.

Nov. 16 — Rules become effective.

Nov. 18 — Liquor control board to begin accepting applications for producer, processor and retail licenses.

Dec. 1 — Deadline for the board to establish rules. Board will also begin issuing producer, processor and retail licenses to qualified applicants.

(Source: Washington State Liquor Control Board)

Last month Walla Walla County commissioners voted to adopt a one-year moratorium on marijuana regulations and the city of Waitsburg adopted a moratorium in December. The cities of Walla Walla and Prescott have taken no action on the matter.

Mayor Rick Newby said the moratorium will give the city a year to establish standards and zoning for recreational marijuana operations which are now legal as the result of Initiative 502 approved by voters last year.

“This just gives us time to plan,” he said.

A public hearing before the Council’s vote drew only one speaker, a woman who spoke in opposition to legalization.

“I’m really sorry for Washington state and what they’ve done with marijuana,” she said.

Council member William Jenkins asked if the moratorium would conflict with actions by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which is charged with drawing up rules for growing, processing and sale of pot. Newby said that should not be the case.

“You’re hitting ‘pause’ is all you’re doing,” Newby said. “It gives time for more reflection.”

Along with Jenkins, Council members voting to approve the moratorium were Adam Keatts, Bernie Yanke, Julie Scott and Loren Peterson. Marge Nyhagen and Larry Dickerson were absent.

Although the Liquor Control Board will be in charge of licensing and regulating the marijuana industry, cities and counties have been grappling with how they will draw up zoning regulations and development permits for growers, developers and retailers. Some areas, such as Seattle, are moving to enact new laws to permit pot operations while others are opting for moratoriums.

Counties and cities can adopt moratoriums to delay writing rules for marijuana operations, but a spokesman for the state liquor control board said local jurisdictions cannot prevent growing, processing and sale by zoning marijuana-related businesses out of their area.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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