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Poulsbo City Council keeps interim marijuana regulations

POULSBO — The final public hearing Wednesday on marijuana regulations garnered more commentary than last week’s hearing from the community and council members, in the Poulsbo City Council Chambers.

“My personal feelings about marijuana are extremely negative,” said Councilman Jim Henry, who was silent on the topic during the Sept. 11 hearing.

“A lot of things have come through this council and we can take it or leave it, but this is a lifestyle change,” he said.

The council made no alterations to the current interim regulations. In the meantime, members will work with city staff to explore modifying future regulations, particularly around the issue of separating medical and recreational uses.

“I would like it if we look at changing the permanent regulations so we make a separation between medical and recreational,” Councilman David Musgrove said.

Councilwoman Connie Lord agreed.

“I support the people who are getting help from cannabis,” she said.

City staff informed the council that combining the two uses was the recommendation of the city's attorney.

Such modifications could create different zoning requirements for medical operations.

The city’s current interim regulations allow for medical-use collective gardens and recreational stores to operate in light industrial zones. The only such zone that works with state marijuana rules is a stretch of land at the north end of Poulsbo between North Viking Way and Vetter Road, bordered by Highway 305 to the south.

But those interested in local access to the drug have argued that the placement is unfair, and it will be unlikely that any facilities could go onto the largely undeveloped land.

Councilman Ed Stern abandoned his previous notion of placing marijuana gardens and stores in business parks, but said he was curious about areas zoned for office commercial industrial.

Noting he understood the medicinal uses of the drug, Henry stressed he was still not in favor of opening more areas of Poulsbo to marijuana, especially recreational.

“I’m all for the little pea patch we stuck in up there [off north Viking Way], and you keep telling me what the financial advantage of wholesale selling this stuff can be for my city, but this is still my city, my home,” Henry said.

“If you can convince me, by actually doing it, that this is gonna work down stream, I’m gonna try to support you. But I’m not going to give you the whole farm if what you need to do can be done at this pea patch.

“If you are going to do this, you take what I am giving you — or the council — and you make it work. Then we can talk about expanding. You don’t make it work, then you go away. It’s not that difficult.”

Wednesday’s discussion — just as with the council meeting on Sept. 11 — focused largely on the medicinal uses of the drug, rather than the recreational.

“We want to provide a safe place for people to come get their medicine,” said Garreth Moore, director of operations at a medical marijuana dispensary in Lake City.

Moore listed the various benefits of the drug that alleviates conditions from cancer to epilepsy. In many cases, qualities such as THC — the part of marijuana that produces a high — are not used in marijuana medicine, he said.

“We don't want to sell to minors, we want a safe environment,” Moore said.

Some locals did comment, briefly, on the recreational side of marijuana, arguing that separating it from hard drugs like heroin or meth — as marijuana is not addictive — allows greater control over it and frees up law enforcement to tackle hard drug crimes.

And it has other benefits, too, some said.

“Cannabis is a viable economic and natural resource, and it is an inevitably,” Christy Stanley said.

One resident did offer a differing opinion on the issue.

“As a pastor I deal with people that are struggling with all sorts of issues in life including drug addiction, including marijuana addiction,” said Mark Music, pastor of True Vine Pentecostal Church in Poulsbo. “To hear that marijuana is not addictive flies in my face in terms of my personal reality.”

Music said that he was addicted to the drug as a teenager.

“I certainly do know the effects, first hand of what marijuana can do to a person,” he said.

He did, however, focus on recreational uses, and shied away from medical marijuana in light of other testimony.

“I had some comments that I was going to begin with, but after hearing recent comments, I am going to adjust it a bit and get a little more information,” he said.

Music did stress, though, that he did not support placing such facilities at the south end of Viking Way, as previously discussed by the council, which is near his church.

Poulsbo’s interim regulations will be in effect until Feb. 14, 2014.

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