Gig Harbor takes year-long timeout on marijuana

The Gig Harbor City Council approved a 12-month moratorium on recreational marijuana sales at its Monday night meeting.

The council did not discuss the moratorium and quickly adopted it on first reading. It passed 6-1, with Ken Malich casting the sole no vote.

Elected leaders in the Peninsula city had been leaning toward this deliberate approach to implementing state Initiative 502. At their Sept. 8 meeting, they directed staff to draft the 12-month moratorium. And with a court case in the City of Fife that may go all the way to the state Supreme Court, the council pitched a wait-and-see approach.

Gig Harbor’s planning commission will review the moratorium and suggest changes to the city code. The commission will begin discussions on a new marijuana ordinance in May, and the council could see it again in June, senior planner Lindsey Sehmel said.

Only one citizen offered testimony in a public hearing before Monday’s vote. Jeni Woock of Citizens for the Preservation of Gig Harbor told the council to vote down the moratorium because preventing access to legal marijuana is a violation of the voters' will.

This is Gig Harbor’s second moratorium on marijuana sales. In April, the council adopted a six-month emergency moratorium that was set to expire on Oct. 14.

Other cities, including Puyallup, have also passed a series of moratoriums while the battle over local regulation of pot plays out in legal briefs and courtrooms.