Lynden OKs six-month moratorium on recreational marijuana sales

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 18, 2013 

LYNDEN - The City Council has put a six-month moratorium on recreational marijuana retailers in Lynden.

The temporary ban applies to stores, producers and processors of pot for recreational use. The council approved the measure 5-0, with Nick Laninga and Tobey Gelder absent, at its meeting Monday, Sept. 16.

"We passed a moratorium because we feel the state rules are kind of in flux right now," Mayor Scott Korthuis said, adding that city leaders didn't want to "risk having something slide in while the rules are in flux."

"Our whole point is to manage the process rather than let it happen unmanaged," Korthuis said.

City leaders also wanted to hear from Lynden residents, and have set an Oct. 21 public hearing to do so.

One store in Lynden would be allowed to sell marijuana for recreational use beginning next year, under draft rules announced Sept. 4 by the Washington Liquor Control Board as it works to implement the measure legalizing recreational pot use that state voters approved Nov. 6, 2012.

That store would be one of a maximum of 15 the state would allow to operate in Whatcom County.

If the rules are adopted in mid-October as expected, licenses could be issued by mid-December with stores opening as early as next June.

No one has applied yet to open such a business in Lynden, Korthuis said.

But as Lynden leaders watch the state move toward implementation, they have questions of their own - including land use and zoning regulations as well as the 1,000-foot buffer between a state-licensed pot business and schools or other places where young people gather.

The Liquor Control Board plans to file an emergency rule on Oct. 16 to measure that buffer using the shortest straight line - an as-the-crow-flies measurement - not over roads and walkways.

"We want to see what they finally decide and see if we concur with it, which we likely will," Korthuis said.

The Oct. 21 public hearing will occur during a regular City Council session, which begins 7 p.m. at Lynden City Hall Annex, 205 4th St.

READ THE MORATORIUM

To see the language of the six-month moratorium on retail pot in Lynden, click here.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com.

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