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Pot gardens on Ellensburg City Council's Monday agenda

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Posted: Saturday, September 17, 2011 8:00 am

A combined public hearing is scheduled during Monday’s Ellensburg City Council meeting for the public to testify on the city’s interim zoning regulations for medical marijuana collective gardens and the city’s six-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries.

The City Council approved an emergency ordinance that outlines interim regulations for cannabis collective gardens in the city at a meeting in August. At the same meeting, the Council also approved a six-month moratorium on cannabis dispensaries.

Without regulations, collective gardens are still allowed under a new state law that went into effect in July, but the Council acted quickly to establish regulations for those who choose to set up a grow room.

The emergency ordinance prevents collective gardens from locating and operating in the city without restrictions, which may lead to uses that might later be restricted or prohibited in permanent regulations.

The dispensary portion of the sate Senate bill that legalized collective gardens was partially vetoed by Gov. Chris Gregiore, and appears to make dispensaries illegal. The Council agreed to put a six-month moratorium on cannabis dispensaries until the dust settles.

In order to adopt an emergency ordinance and moratorium, the Council must hold a public hearing within 60 days. Monday's public hearing will give the Council an opportunity to accept testimony to determine whether to continue the interim regulations and the moratorium or to appeal the actions. At its Oct. 3 meeting, the Council will take action.

Ellensburg is one of few Washington cities that has adopted its own regulations for collective gardens. Many Washington cities have put moratoriums on dispensaries, and some also put temporary bans on collective gardens.

Ellensburg's regulations are more restrictive than state law, requiring a permit issued by the city and written approval from property owners.

Ellensburg's rules also require collective gardens to be indoors and not visible from a public space. A 300-foot buffer zone has been established around schools and youth-oriented facilities.

The city has yet to receive an application for a collective garden, though a number of people have inquired and picked up applications.

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