Planners recommend keeping pot out of Enumclaw

Marijuana plant

A move to keep recreational marijuana out of Enumclaw picked up steam Thursday evening when the Planning Commission voted – by a 3-2 margin – to effectively bar all weed-related activity.

The vote came after a dozen people testified, with two-third urging the commission to keep all phases of the marijuana delivery chain off-limits within the city.

On the agenda was a proposed change to land use inside Enumclaw’s boundaries. The concept – supported by city administration and police – does two things. One, it recognizes that legal cannabis exists and includes the growing, processing and selling of recreational marijuana among potential land uses. But the key is part two of the proposal: the city has 14 zones and recreational marijuana is not allowed in any.

No growing. No processing. No selling. Not is a residential zone, not in a commercial zone, not in an industrial zone.

The split vote had Jeff Dahlquist, Lori McDonald and Jessica Kinney supporting the effective ban on recreational weed. Planning Commission members Fred Sears and Tom Mann cast “no” votes.

The commission’s verdict serves an a formal recommendation to the seven-member Enumclaw City Council, which will have the final say on the matter.

In January, the council dealt with the marijuana issue by imposing an emergency, six-month moratorium on all phases of the recreational marijuana trade.

Now, the council will receive the Planning Commission’s recommendation and act on the suggested land use proposal. City Administrator Chris Searcy said the council may not receive the item for a couple of months. During the interim, it’s expected that the council will renew the moratorium for another six months.

The council-imposed moratorium was in response to Initiative 502, passed by voters, which made Washington one of just two states in the nation to allow recreational marijuana. It further was prompted by a ruling by the state’s attorney general, who said individual cities have the right to adopt their own regulations when it comes to marijuana sales.

The ongoing debate does not deal with medicinal marijuana.

During Thursday’s public hearing, the Planning Commission heard testimony that covered all areas of the marijuana spectrum.

Retired mental health professional Robert Kreager told of the deteriorated mental function he saw in patients. Robert Meneghini addressed concerns of marijuana being a threshold drug that leads to more serious narcotics and added worries of environmental hazards. And Bill Moyers’ concerns included decreased property values if marijuana operations were allowed near residential neighborhoods.

Commission members also heard from two citizens who use marijuana for medicinal purposes and two who have submitted applications to sell recreational marijuana. Their comments ranges from the health benefits marijuana can provide to sufferers of certain ailments to a need to have sales regulated and governed by the state.