UPDATE: At their evening meeting, the Whatcom County Council passed an emergency moratorium. More info to follow.
At their committee meeting this morning, the County Council once again faced complaints from property rights advocates, but this time, team Tea Party wanted the long arm of municipal government to stop marijuana grows planned for the county. Sam Crawford was leading the charge, bringing up fears of robberies and violence in rural neighborhoods involving these grows.
“What exactly are we afraid of here?” Ken Mann repeatedly asked the council. “Do we think there are going to be shootouts at these farms?” Tyler Schroeder, planning manager for the Whatcom County Planning Department, walked the council through the restrictions already in place (1000 feet from any hospital, school, transit center, arcade, playground or park, all outdoor grows need to be enclosed in a wall at least eight feet tall with video camera surveillance, etc).
Rud Browne noted that the crime rates for medical marijuana locations is no higher than any other business, while Pete Kremen expressed concerns that people would break in and steal the buds and immediately turn around to sell them, apparently unaware that it takes several weeks to harvest, dry and prepare marijuana before it can be consumed.
Carl Weimer struck at the irony of the complaints they had received. “I’m not opposed to setbacks, I’d like to see some setbacks implemented for other large scale operations out in the county like slaughterhouses and mushroom farms . . . I just don’t want to implement a whole bunch of restrictions and have all this business go down to Skagit where they aren’t doing this.”
All this struck me as quite humorous considering that the same people who want to regulate these marijuana grows were completely opposed to any sort of regulation of the Slaughterhouses last year. How do I feel? I think the council could implement some minor tweaks to ensure that these grows are safe and non-disruptive (making sure fans don’t pump the smell right into someone else’s house, for instance) but the state has set up some pretty restrictive rules for these grows, so there is not much left in the hands of the council to do.
The committee ended the discussion by directing the planning department to develop a few options and get back to them.