POULSBO — Potential business owners are criticizing the limited space for marijuana gardens in Poulsbo in the wake of newly established regulations for the drug.
Marijuana has cropped up into conversation ever since Washington voters approved recreational use of the drug last year.
Though medical marijuana in Washington was approved in 1998, many communities have yet to address the issue from a policy perspective, however, they are now are being forced to given recent developments with recreational use.
Poulsbo has become one such community.
The city of Poulsbo has scheduled a public hearing for interim marijuana regulations during its Sept. 11 City Council meeting, at 7 p.m.
The City Council adopted interim regulations aimed at tackling the emerging recreational marijuana market, Aug. 14. The rules also apply to collective gardens for medical marijuana.
The resulting regulations allow for medical and recreational organizations to operate in the light industrial zone between Viking Way and Vetter Road at the northern outskirts of the city.
But the placement doesn’t sit well with some interested in establishing an operation in Poulsbo.
“The problem is there are only two spots in Poulsbo that are zoned light industrial,” Michael Paxhia said. “One spot the county uses, the second piece of land is owned by one property management company. It’s raw land, it’s not developed at all.”
Paxhia owns and operates Herbal Healing, a collective medical marijuana garden in Gorst. He, along with business partner Rick Doyle, want to establish another medical marijuana garden in Poulsbo.
But Paxhia argues the city’s regulations are too limiting for medical operations such as his, or anyone else who might want to put roots down in the area. The one parcel of light industrial land has one landlord. The land is also undeveloped with no structures, and city rules require that marijuana operations be run entirely indoors.
“The south end of Viking Way has a lot of commercial property that is barely developed, that is not within 1,000 feet of any parks, schools, churches and so on,” Paxhia said.
But that area is zoned for commercial uses, and therefore unavailable to marijuana operations.
Paxhia wants to establish the collective garden in Poulsbo because they have served a number of patients from the area in the past. And helping patients is what it comes down to, he said.
“We only handle medical patients, we are not on the recreational side of things,” Paxhia said. “This really is a medicine.”
“We help so many people, from cancer patients to those with sleeping disorders,” he added, further noting that the drug helps as an anti-inflammatory agent, muscle relaxer, and can be used to help opiate addicts come off their addictions.
“We have strains that have no high, but work with pain,” he said.
A collective garden can operate with 10 patients at a time. Patients must have a doctor’s referral, and once they have harvested what they need — up to 24 ounces — they leave and another patient can come on board.
“We have a lot of patients come from the north end and we’ve requested (a collective garden) more than a few times,” Paxhia said.
Poulsbo city officials have received five to seven calls within the past two months regarding the establishment of marijuana operations in the city.
The council’s interim regulations will be place for six months. Council members raised a number of issues when the regulations were adopted, such as not distinguishing between rules for medical and recreational uses.
The public hearing on Sept. 11 will advance the discussion further. Paxhia plans on attending.