PULLMAN – The Pullman City Council adopted new marijuana business regulations Tuesday night with hardly any discussion.
The council unanimously approved two new ordinances that will update where marijuana retailers can be located and accommodate medical marijuana operations. The votes came after a moratorium was placed on any new marijuana businesses in November as city planners worked to reconcile city code with 2015 changes in Washington legislation.
“We are up to date with whatever the state has given us,” Mayor Glenn Johnson said after the meeting. “And now we believe that this will take care of us for a while.”
One of the ordinances the council approved amends the city’s zoning code to establish buffer zones between marijuana businesses and two types of “sensitive uses,” like playgrounds or libraries.
The ordinance sets a 1,000-foot buffer between pot shops and primary and secondary schools and playgrounds, which the state mandates.
A buffer of 500 feet will be required between marijuana businesses and recreation centers, child care centers, public parks, public transit centers, libraries and arcades. The state requires a buffer of 100 feet for these sensitive uses.
“The planning commission actually recommended a 100-foot buffer instead of the 500-foot,” Planning Commission Chairman Dave Gibney said after Tuesday’s meeting. “But the city council is the final decision.”
The council previously discussed increasing the buffer, which makes Pullman’s downtown area off limits to any marijuana shops.
The ordinance also calls for the moratorium to expire as soon as the ordinance takes effect, which is expected to be Sept. 8. The moratorium was initially set to expire today.
The zoning ordinance does not include a limitation on the number of marijuana businesses in the city, a decision that is left with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.
The board will allow a maximum of five shops in Pullman. There are currently three shops in operation, all located along Southeast Bishop Boulevard in the central southern part of the city.
“This is what the state law is, and we follow state law,” Johnson said.
The other ordinance approved Tuesday revises licensing and taxation code, allowing the city to accommodate medical marijuana operations. As of July 1, the state has merged recreational and medical marijuana industries, calling for medical endorsements for recreational businesses and more regulation of medical businesses.
“The medical and the recreational are still kind of widespread, the differences,” Gibney said. “A great lot of the choices were to bring the medical and the recreational closer together, hopefully for the benefit of the people who need the medical and people who find it fun to smoke pot.”
Gibney said few concerns were raised with the planning commission throughout the process of updating Pullman’s marijuana regulations.
“We did not have many residents at all at any of the public hearings,” Gibney said. “The initiative to legalize recreational marijuana passed by better than 60 percent in the city of Pullman.”