The Napavine City Council extended its recreational marijuana moratorium for another six months on Tuesday, passing the extension 3-2.
The city has now extended the moratorium three times. A public hearing was scheduled before the regularly held council meeting where two people spoke.
Councilor Lionel Pinn took the stand as a citizen and said he was in opposition of continuing the extension of the moratorium. He said Initiative 502, which legalized small amounts of marijuana-related products for adults 21 and over, passed with almost a 56 percent approval rate in the state of Washington.
“That’s a statewide decision and that basic fact is ruled by a higher court than our court,” Pinn said. “For us to be taking action at a lower level like we are attempting to do to extend it, I don’t think we have the right or authority to do that.”
He said the moratorium was creating a prohibition atmosphere, and although he said he had problems with how the revenue was shared, he said he could not support extending the moratorium.
Mike Hamilton, a physician, then took the stand in favor of the extension. He said marijuana is damaging to the body from a medical standpoint and said “we really don’t know how long marijuana takes to kill you.”
He also said allowing the recreational use of marijuana may open up doors for other drugs.
“I don’t want to drive on the freeway next to someone high on THC … In fact, I don’t want to drive down the freeway next to someone on meth, or on cocaine, or on heroin and the list is long,” Hamilton said. “At what point do we draw a line in the sand and say this is acceptable and this isn’t?”
Councilor Scott Hamilton said he appreciated Pinn’s comments as a citizen, but found it ironic that he quoted the state voting records without mentioning Lewis County, let alone Napavine. He said both Napavine and Lewis County “voted overwhelmingly to oppose marijuana.”
He said the council’s duty is to represent the people in the city and the continuation of the moratorium reflects the vote in both areas.
Hamilton also said it was unclear of where the revenue of the sale of marijuana was going to go, and so a six-month moratorium “makes tons of sense.”
He supported Councilor Bob Wheeler’s motion to approve the extension and said he realized the issue would come up again in the future.
Wheeler said he would be in favor of an ordinance that completely banned recreational use, much like other cities have done.
“I think it’s more trouble, no matter how much money we get from it,” he said.
Pinn said he believed the city needed to uphold the rights of higher authority.
“Even though Lewis County and Napavine didn’t vote (in favor for it), they also did not vote for the governor and Barack Obama,” he said. “Does that mean we need to make a moratorium on those two gentlemen?”
Pinn and Jen Slemp opposed the measure, while Wheeler, Hamilton and LaVerne Haslett voted for the extension.
Community Development Director Steve Ashley said the city’s planning commission had been working on an ordinance addressing recreational marijuana within the city. The planning commission is currently reviewing the ordinance and it will later come before the city council. He said the ordinance should be ready by April and also told the council the city had the option of rejecting and not allowing the use of recreational marijuana, a decision other courts have upheld.
“We will have public hearings to discuss the options of the ordinance that we have and the possibility of that issue as well,” he said.