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County approves moratorium on marijuana establishments

MONTESANO — The Grays Harbor County commissioners approved a six-month moratorium on all marijuana collective gardens as well as anything else connected to either the distribution or growing of marijuana.

Sheriff Rick Scott pushed for the moratorium, noting that there are three of four outfits already setting up shop in the county without any regulations or guidance to control what they’re doing. Rules need to be set up both on the medical marijuana end and on the recreational end, under Initiative 502, Scott said

Scott identified one collective garden/dispensary north of Hoquiam, another one in a trailer in Central Park and another one may be setting up in an old grocery store in unincorporated East County.

Deputy Prosecutor Jim Baker recommended the moratorium, noting that it gives the county time to plan for what to do about dispensaries. Baker said that the Planning Commission should be spearheading the effort. Baker noted after the six months are over, the state would allow the county to do another six-month moratorium. At the end of that one, some kind of rules are expected to be put in place.

“This gives the county time to put together recommendations,” Baker said.

“We pass the moratorium and it puts the brakes on these,” Scott said, noting that many cities have already passed similar moratoriums, which leaves the county open as “no man’s land” with no rules and regulations for marijuana dispensaries.

“If we don’t do something to put the brakes on these, they’ll pop up faster than espresso stands,” Scott added.

County Commissioner Frank Gordon asked if any of the existing facilities might be grandfathered in. Scott said he’s not entirely sure, but it’s something that the county will need to find out.