With the moratorium on recreational marijuana in Issaquah expiring July 7, the Issaquah City Council voted 5-2 Monday night to allow the one retail outlet the city can legally have. Two applications have been received for producer/processors licenses that can be issued in the city. The moratorium will be removed June 16 when the ordinance is recorded.
It’s been one year and seven months since Washington state voters approved I-502, legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use. The council’s Land and Shore Committee has discussed marijuana regulations at no less than five meetings, and has called for community input a number of times, with little feedback.
The one retail establishment will be allowed in a commercial zone, with the exception of the central business district. Producer/processors are allowed only in areas zoned intensive commercial. Security systems and cameras are required at all facilities, and any recreational marijuana business is subject to inspections. Home business, or home grows are not allowed.
Councilmembers Nina Milligan and Eileen Barber voted against the bill.
Milligan said it rubbed her the wrong way since marijuana is still banned by the federal government. She added that she still believes there will be a black market because there will be no tax on illegally obtained marijuana.
Legal marijuana businesses will be subject to Issaquah’s B&O tax, but only .85 percent of state sales tax remains local.
Councilmember Josh Schaer said the bill was “legal and appropriate.”
“Marijuana is ridiculously listed as a schedule I drug like meth,” he said.
He mentioned the medicinal uses for marijuana and said the proposed zoning is appropriate.
Councilmember Tola Marts said it’s a matter of individual liberties, adding that studies show marijuana is less harmful than alcohol.
Barber, who was the other no vote, said she is most concerned about the effects of marijuana on the adolescent brain. Marijuana use in teens leads to dropouts, and reduces IQ, she said, reading from an American Medical Association study.
I-502 only allows the sale of recreational marijuana to those over the age of 21. The liquor control board will penalize sales to minors just as it would a liquor store.
The city will require that any recreational marijuana business be 1,000 feet from schools, recreation centers, parks, playgrounds, libraries, transit centers, daycares and game arcades.
Council president Paul Winterstein reiterated that it is now legal in the state of Washington.
“Prohibition taught us, when you bring something into the light you can control it and educate,” Winterstein said.