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Anacortes updates medical marijuana garden regulation plan

ANACORTES — An updated plan to regulate potential collective medical marijuana gardens in the Anacortes area was presented to City Council on Monday, revising earlier suggestions about where and how far apart the gardens could be located.

Anacortes passed a moratorium on marijuana gardens in September. Since then, city planning staff has been working on a draft ordinance to regulate zoning, business license requirements, health and safety and taxes for the collective gardens.

The planning staff drafted the plan using information gleaned from other Washington cities currently allowing collective gardens.

Anacortes Assistant Planning Director Don Measamer said the biggest issues in coming up with a local ordinance were safety and health concerns, and making sure the dispensaries are secure and located far enough away from sensitive areas, like schools and parks.

City Councilman Ryan Walters said there has been almost no public input on the issue. He said it’s been hard to craft a plan, especially not knowing how much of a demand there would be for such gardens.

The planning staff’s recommendations placed gardens 1,000 feet from existing schools, daycare centers, parks and community centers. Another recommendation included requiring a 500-foot separation between gardens.

The gardens would not be forced to move if a new school, park, etc. is located nearby.

The Planning Commission in May weighed in on the proposal and suggested the proposed 1,000-foot distance between schools, parks and other sites be reduced to 500 feet.

The gardens would have to include monitored security systems, as well as ventilation to stop the smell of marijuana from escaping the covered buildings. Signage depicting cannabis would be illegal, and consumption of marijuana on premises would be forbidden.

Gardens would have to apply for safety licenses every year.

Earlier plans included commercial marine zones, but those were excluded due to conditional residential use permits peppering the areas.

The updated plan presented by the staff planning committee to the City Council during a study session Monday restricts gardens to the city’s light manufacturing and industrial zones.

At the session, Walters suggested the plan follow the Planning Commission’s recommendations for a 500-foot barrier between schools, parks and similar facilities.

The largest zone where gardens could be located is along Highway 20, zoned light manufacturing, from the RV Park east to just beyond Reservation Road.

An industrial zone located between R Avenue and Fidalgo Bay, stretching from 22nd to 34th streets, could also accept potential gardens.

Measamer said the Anacortes City Council will likely act on or further consider proposed local laws in late-July or early August. The current six-month moratorium on collective gardens expires in September.

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