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Moratorium on medical marijuana gardens extended

POULSBO — Poulsbo City Council members say they are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The council discussed the current moratorium on allowing collective gardens for growing medical cannabis Wednesday night. The moratorium was set in September to buy the council time to interpret the law and decide if collective gardens fit into the city’s zoning code.

Planning Director Barry Berezowsky said allowing collective gardens is not a zoning issue.

“If someone is manufacturing meth that’s not my issue — it’s a police issue,” Berezowsky said. “The question is whether the facility established meets the requirements of the zoning code and the building code.” Agricultural zones are currently in place.

The issue for the council became a legal quandary.

Because Washington state allows patients to grow and use medical cannabis, but doesn’t allow a legal option to obtain the drug (dispensaries), local jurisdictions are left to decide how to interpret a confusing law — in addition to all cannabis being illegal under federal law.

“We’re either breaking state law or federal law no matter what [we] do,” Councilman David Musgrove said.

The council voted to extend the moratorium on collective gardens another six months.

“This is best for our citizens, not a means of avoidance or ulterior motives,” Musgrove said after the vote.

Audience members spoke only in favor of collective gardens during the public hearing. Ezra Eickmeyer, a lobbyist with Washington Alternative Medicine Alliance, agreed it is important for cities to find the best process “before operations show up.” However, he and local activist Troy Barber said that without legal options, patients will turn to the black market.

“People are using it and if its working for them, they’re going to continue to use it either way,” resident Mike Holm said. “It makes a lot more sense to keep it regulated.”

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