Marijuana moratoriums: Washington cities stall legal pot

By   /   September 12, 2013  /   4 Comments

ON HOLD: Cities across Washington state are imposing moratoriums on legal weed sales.

ON HOLD: Cities across Washington state are imposing moratoriums on legal weed sales.

By Shelby Sebens | Northwest Wathdog

Marijuana moratoriums appear to be the new bureaucratic move for cities uncomfortable with laws legalizing cannabis.

A growing number of Washington cities are adopting moratoriums on legal weed sales as the Washington State Liquor Control Board carves out regulations and red tape around the industry. Despite 56 percent of voters approving legal weed in Washington in November, several cities are not eager for the new market to get moving.

Several cities, including the state capital of Olympia, have already enacted marijuana moratoriums, as others considering them. Apparently, cities need more time to add regulations and zoning to the new marijuana laws.

“I’m not looking to limit access to medical marijuana for those patients who need it.  However, collective gardens are new under the law.” Kent Council President Jamie Perry said in a press release. “This moratorium allows us the time to plan and zone for them before the law goes into effect.  We need to do this right.”

But fear not, cannabis defenders, communities cannot ignore I-502 and the will of the voters indefinitely.

“There’s nothing in I-502 that allows a community to opt out,” Washington state Liquor Control Board spokesman Brian Smith said. If a marijuana retailer meets the state’s requirement for a license then it will be granted.

But, there’s a catch. They will also have to comply with local zoning codes and regulations, leaving the door open to miles of red tape and trouble for the newly emerging industry. That could lead to lawsuits and the continued dominance of the black market.

“There could be friction there going forward,” Smith said. “No one wants to see litigation.”

The liquor control board filed updated rule revisions to the law and is expected to finalize them by December. Smith said the moratoriums are understandable given the time it’s taking the state to regulate the industry.

“Many of them are taking a look and see what our rules look like and that’s appropriate,” he said.

Contact Shelby Sebens at [email protected]

Like Click HERE to get breaking news alerts in YOUR state.


Shelby formerly served as staff reporter for

  • claygooding

    A moratorium on legal marijuana is underwriting the existence of the black market and the continued ease of access kids enjoy today.
    The problem is that the voters made marijuana legal,not the politicians,we have bypassed the enemies to legalization and left them in power where they can damage the legal market any way they can,whether it is through over-regulation and taxation or refusing to enact the law voters put in place.
    Prohibition will not end in the two states that legalized marijuana until they take the support for prohibiton out of their government,,city,county and state.

  • Silverado

    Here’s what would be my litmus test as far as this being able to be used for & against legal cannabis in Washington state.

    Does your town, city or county presently allow the sale, manufacture, home & on-premise business consumption of alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer and spirits?? If that answer is in the affirmative you MUST also allow the same circumstances, rules & regulations governing cannabis use. Anything less would be unacceptable and should be readily challenged in a court of law….

  • California cities have been using zoning restrictions and moratoria (btw that’s the correct plural form) for years to push out medical cannabis dispensaries, it’s not a new tactic. There have been Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) trainers working for the past few years with local officials down there to refine and encourage that approach, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find that people who’ve been associated with CADCA working in WA doing the same thing.

  • Gdale

    Weed is legal in Washington, there is nothing that can stop that. It’s on the books. Any one that has a problem with weed can not use it. No one is forcing it down their throats. It will bring in taxes, give people jobs, prevent kids from using it, and most importantly it will bring awareness that weed is not a horrible. I don’t know anyone that’s died from it. Usually they just smile and laugh. And what’s wrong with that.