Council passes marijuana moratorium
July 31, 2014
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Newcastle residents won’t find a marijuana retail establishment in the city anytime soon.
The Newcastle City Council approved a six-month moratorium on marijuana-related business activity within Newcastle, at its July 1 meeting.
“A moratorium is simply a procedural mechanism this council can adopt to literally hold the status quo as is, meaning, it gives you six months to review something,” city attorney Dawn Reitan told council members. “Nothing comes in while that happens.”
Councilman Gordon Bisset made the motion instituting the moratorium. It passed 4-3, with council members Lisa Jensen, Carol Simpson and Rich Crispo dissenting.
Mayor Steve Buri called the moratorium a “sensible mid-step,” and Deputy Mayor John Drescher supported it, too, even though he said he would eventually like to pursue a ban on marijuana businesses in Newcastle.
“We are taking the opportunity to try to say not in the 4.4-square miles of Newcastle do we want to in any way encourage this use or business,” Drescher said.
A moratorium didn’t quite seem necessary, Crispo said, given the low probability a business could legally operate in Newcastle.
City staff considers the potential for any marijuana-related business activity in Newcastle very low due to state Liquor Control Board rules on where marijuana facilities can set up shop.
The board requires a 1,000-foot separation between marijuana facilities and places such as parks, libraries and schools. Only the Shell gas station, the Coal Creek Utility District building, and the Hansen Moving and Storage Building could facilitate that.
Also, the state’s marijuana retail license lottery came and went without any impacts on Newcastle.
“It’s not that I’m voting for marijuana in Newcastle, because I don’t want to see it necessarily, but I don’t believe in voting for things that don’t make a lot of sense to me, and this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” Crispo said.
City staff will now craft a work plan on how the city will use the six months and bring it back to the council for review.