Marijuana task force reaches some conclusions, puts off others 


By the end of the city's marijuana task force meeting on Friday, March 4, the group had solidified recommendations that deal with zoning, code enforcement and home grows.

On land use, Planning Director Peter Wysocki proposed relegating all new commercial grows (OPCs) and infused product manufacturers (MIPs) to industrial (M-1 and M-2) zones.

Marijuana attorney Charles Houghton pushed back, asking what makes an OPC different than, say, a wholesale plant nursery, which is currently permitted in commercial zones. "Why could you grow tomatoes but not marijuana?" he asked.

Houghton also pointed out that while some infused product manufacturers extract THC using hazardous and potentially explosive materials — a heavy industrial use — many do not. "It's just a bakery," Houghton said of those type of MIPs. "They're not going to just blow up."

Wysocki suggested making OPCs and MIPs a conditional rather than permitted use in all zones so that neighbors could weigh in when the planning commission considers whether to grant an application.

Dale Hecht, task force member and owner of Green Pharm, questioned whether that process is truly independent. "Given staff's desire to keep [grows and MIPs] in industrial, it seems like they would just deny," he opined.

In the end, the group voted to recommend making OPCs a permitted use in industrial zones and a conditional use in commercial zones. Because only one MIP license exists (making no distinction between those that use hazardous materials and those that don't), City Clerk Sarah Johnson said her department would have to look into splitting them up for different land uses.

On the home grow side, the task force voted to recommend an ordinance that places a 12-plant limit on private residences. Under state law, caregivers can grow up to 99 plants, but municipalities have been lowering that limit — a move advocates say could be unconstitutional.

With some lingering details yet to be hashed out, the group scheduled another meeting for March 14 — one week before it's set to present to City Council, which will have the final say on any new regulations.

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