After a public hearing Monday night, the Mountlake Terrace City Council opted not to vote on two marijuana-related ordinances. Instead, they will vote during their regular meeting on Monday, June 20.
The main reason councilmembers decided to table the vote was because Councilmembers Doug McCardle and Bryan Wahl were unable to attend Monday’s meeting, and the present councilmembers said both had things they would want to add to the conversation. The meeting on June 20 will not include a public hearing.
Proposed changes to the city’s marijuana law were brought forward after the state changed its law in 2015, which would allow Mountlake Terrace to add a second recreational marijuana store within the city limits if the city chose to allow it, and allow cooperatives if the city allows it. The Planning Commission brought forward an ordinance that would keep the recreational store limit at one for at least another year and ban marijuana cooperatives, so that the city would have more data to see how the shop has impacted tax revenue and crime in the area.
Right now, the city has one shop, Fweedom Cannabis, located at 21911 64th Ave. W., which opened earlier this year. An owner of that store spoke at Monday’s meeting in favor of the proposed ordinance that would keep the limit at one shop.
“We have only been in business for three months, and that is not nearly enough to evaluate the true impacts associated,” Tyler Godfrey, co-owner of Fweedom Cannabis, said.
He also said that having a second store so close could impact the tax revenue received by the city, as competing stores may use “race to the bottom” sales tactics to beat out their competition.
A massage therapist and a chiropractor, who practice in the building where the second shop would be located, also spoke against allowing the second shop. They said their customers, mainly senior citizens, would be uncomfortable coming inside for a health-related treatment with marijuana for sale in the same building. They were also concerned that their clients may be able to smell marijuana while receiving a treatment.
“One of my most faithful clients said she will not go my practice anymore if a marijuana shop is located inside the building,” Licensed Massage Therapist Suzanne Pardee said.
Mountlake Terrace resident Carmen Marsall also agreed with the Planning Commission that cooperatives should not be allowed. She told the council about a rental property she owns in Ocean Shores. Her previous tenants illegally grew marijuana and cooked hash oil – and the house now has $20,000 in damage.
“I have no problem if someone wants to smoke recreational marijuana, I grew up in the 70s,” Marsall said. “But cooperatives should not be allowed near kids, and I don’t want to see properties destroyed in the area.”
No one spoke in favor of allowing a new shop during Monday’s public hearing, though the prospective owners of the second shop spoke during the council’s work session on Thursday, June 2.
Councilmember Seaun Richards asked City Attorney Greg Schrag if it was possible to approve the second shop, but not allow it to operate in the building the prospective owners have leased, located on 64th Avenue West near 220th Street Southwest. Schrag said that building meets the current criteria under the city code, which is more stringent than the state’s guidelines. To not allow the new store into that building, the city would need to further change its code.
Councilmember Laura Sonmore agreed to table further discussion and a vote until June 20, but said she would vote to ban cooperatives.
“I truly don’t believe everyone knew what they were voting for when they passed (I-502),” she said. “I don’t think they knew their neighbors next door would be growing marijuana.”
–By Natalie Covate