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Kelso City Council adopts moratorium on medical marijuana gardens

Kelso City Council adopts moratorium on medical marijuana gardens

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The Kelso City Council has adopted a six-month emergency moratorium on establishing collective medical marijuana gardens and activities related to the recreational use of marijuana.

The moratorium’s purpose is to give the city time to conduct research and develop regulations for marijuana now that state voters have legalized its recreational use with the passage of Initiative 502, City Manager Steve Taylor said last week.

The council will hold a public hearing on the matter at its Aug. 20 meeting. The council may extend the moratorium further as long as it can demonstrate it’s making progress on developing regulations.

As a result of the moratorium, the city will not issue any permits or approval for any medical or recreational marijuana-related land use. Neither will the city issue any business licenses for marijuana-related ventures.

The moratorium was adopted last Tuesday on an emergency basis “so someone can’t come in tomorrow and apply for some type of cannabis-related use and get vested under the state’s vesting doctrine,” Taylor said.

The city also needs time to weigh whether it would expose its employees to the risk of federal prosecution if they issued a marijuana-related license or permit, he said. On the flip side, he asked if the city’s denial of a permit could risk a suit against the city on a land-use issue.

“For us, it’s a decision on whether we recognize state law or do we continue following federal law,” he said. “That’s the Catch-22 issue that cities are in.”

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