Bainbridge Island OKs interim rules for pot shops and collective gardens

The Bainbridge Island City Council decided Wednesday to impose a temporary moratorium on marijuana grow operations and approve interim regulations on retailers, processors and medical marijuana “collective gardens.”

The interim regulations limits processors, retailers and medical marijuana “collective gardens” to business industrial zones. Under the interim rules, such marijuana businesses could be located at the Day Road industrial park.

Rolling Bay, the other area on the island earlier identified as a possible location, would not be considered as a location until the permanent ordinance is discussed.

Council members noted, however, the interim ordinance does little to address questions concerning marijuana grow operations other than they would be allowed anywhere crop agriculture is permitted.

“I can’t imagine supporting an ordinance that allows some unknown smacking of parcels all over; that’s a long-term process,” said Councilwoman Kirsten Hytopolous.

“I also think, however, that a large number of citizens will be upset with us for doing a moratorium on the retail operations,” she added.

Interim rules and a temporary moratorium on grow operations will allow city staff to permit marijuana-related licenses with minimal negative impact on the community. The rules will act as placeholders for six months while the council considers more comprehensive regulations.

In a permanent zoning ordinance, the city will examine impacts experienced by other communities such as the degradation of a neighborhood due to shuttered up homes; offensive odors; night time traffic and loitering; environmental damage; illegal structural modifications; conversion of a residence into a processing facility; and criminal issues, such as burglaries at medical marijuana facilities.

Despite zoning concerns, one citzen came from Seattle to discuss the potential of opening a local medical marijuana business.

Andrew Kohl of Organic Greens currently owns and manages a delivery business that distributes medicinal marijuana to patients from Belfair to Bainbridge. Just two weeks ago, he applied to open a safe access location on the island for his patients.

Kohl said he was told by city staff to wait until this week’s council meeting when council members would discuss the interim regulations prompted by Initiative 502, the ballot measure passed last November that legalized recreational marijuana under Washington state law.

Kohl explained that 30 percent of his patients come from Kitsap County and Bainbridge Island.

A safe access location, he said, would be more convenient to his clients and also allow him better means for understanding their needs.

At Wednesday’s council session, he told council members he was concerned that they were wrapping medical marijuana businesses in with I-502 recreational regulations. And he encouraged them to give greater consideration to businesses such as his.

“It is our goal for education, compassion and community outreach to develop and sustain a collective of integrity and support for our patients,” Kohl explained.

Also under the interim regulations, collective gardens must be established inside permanent structures that comply with the city’s building code and must be 500 feet away from other marijuana businesses, collective gardens or residential areas.

The council first considered imposing a temporary moratorium on all marijuana-related businesses.

The motion was defeated, however, by a 5-2 vote.

The council then passed with a 6-1 vote a six-month moratorium on grow operations and the approval of interim regulations on retailers, processors and medical marijuana “collective gardens.”

“I think it’s good for the community, even though they don’t realize it. They get to lay the brick that everyone gets to walk on,” said Angie Tyree.

Tyree plans to work with Kohl once his business opens. She currently works as a registered nurse at a rheumatology clinic.

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