Spokane Valley is updating its marijuana regulations following recent changes in state law.
The city adopted an emergency moratorium Dec. 9, halting all new marijuana businesses except those regulated by the state at the time.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, deputy city attorney Erik Lamb outlined the changes the staff recommends.
Mainly, Lamb recommended treating medical and recreational marijuana stores the same way by changing regulations to include medical marijuana stores, applying the same zoning restrictions and buffer zones, including the 1,000-foot buffer from city property and trails.
State-regulated medical marijuana stores did not exist when the Valley adopted its moratorium.
The new state regulations prohibit marijuana clubs, Lamb said.
Council member Arne Woodard asked if that meant the city could close the vapor lounge that opened last year. Lamb said he couldn’t comment on the business.
The state determines how many medical marijuana stores will be licensed in the Valley, and Lamb urged the council to update marijuana regulations before the state begins to issue licenses.
State law allows medical marijuana cooperatives to grow 60 plants as long as they are located at a domicile. This provision was made to allow medical marijuana patients in rural areas without easy access to stores to grow their own.
“We do not believe that it’s appropriate to have a 60-plant grow operation in a residential area,” Lamb said, adding that he’d recommend that the Valley prohibit cooperatives.
State law also allows qualified medical marijuana patients to grow 15 plants at their home.
“For those patients we’d recommend they do so in an enclosed structure,” Lamb said. “It should be opaque to limit prying eyes and other nuisance issues.”
And finally, Lamb said it would be important to enforce proper building permits to grow areas constructed at private homes.
“We are not quite sure how that would work,” Lamb said, adding that extra ventilation and power needs generated by growing marijuana can cause problems for homeowners if the grow area isn’t constructed properly.
Council member Arne Woodard wanted to know if there is a way to simply ban new retail stores and Lamb said he didn’t think so.
Woodard said he wished the Valley could just stick with the three stores that are already there, make sure they all have a medical marijuana provision, and then allow no further stores.
“I don’t want 15 stores here, and I don’t think our citizens want that either,” Woodard said.
The proposed changes to the Valley’s marijuana regulations will now head to the planning commission, before coming back to the City Council this fall.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.