Forced by the state to allow collective medical marijuana gardens somewhere, the Longview City Council on Thursday night restricted them to the Mint Farm Industrial Park and an area along Industrial Way.
Without the zoning restrictions, people could plant the gardens anywhere after the citywide moratorium ends March 22, city officials said.
“The option is we adopt a zoning code, or folks could just set them up willy-nilly and we have no control of it,” Councilman Mike Wallin said.
The gardens must be placed in areas zoned light industrial or mixed-use commercial industrial. The zoning ordinance the council adopted also bars the grow operations within 1,000-feet of mobile home parks, residential lots, schools, churches and parks.
The buffer does not apply to long-term care facilities, some of which are in industrial areas. Without the change, McNamara said the code would be so stringent that there would be no place left in the city to put the gardens, which state law prohibits.
Gardens will be allowed indoors within a building with lockable doors and can contain up to 45 plants and occupy a maximum of 150 square feet.
The ordinance, approved on a 6-1 vote, will take effect when the citywide moratorium expires on March 22. Councilman Ken Botero was the lone dissenting vote.
Botero said the state is still hashing out some of the legal ramifications of collective gardens following November’s statewide vote to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
“We’re putting something on the books that may be nonexistent six months from now,” he said.
The legalization measure does not allow users to grow their own cannabis. Medical marijuana has been legal in Washington since 1998, and in 2011 the Legislature legalized collective medical marijuana gardens, limiting them to 10 members and 15 plants per patient. However, it’s still up to cities to decide where to allow them, and marijuana possession still is against federal law.
Some residents attending the meeting were satisfied with the ordinance.
“I think it’s fair,” Chuck Wallace said. “I don’t want to see the city being a legal proving ground (if it tried to ban marijuana outright).”
Others opposed the ordinance.
“What you’re doing right now is stupid and senseless,” said Martin Wells of Longview. He urged the council to oppose the state’s law allowing the gardens unless it is forced to allow the gardens by the courts.