On Monday, December 7, the Ferndale City Council will consider an emergency moratorium prohibiting new marijuana retail stores in the city. Monday’s City Council agenda can be found here.
Under the original I502 regulations adopted by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (“LCB”), Ferndale was only allotted one retail store. Recent state legislation, however, removed the cap on the number of retail marijuana stores that may locate in any one city or county.
Ferndale is now concerned that additional stores will apply to locate within the city. Why this is of great concern to Ferndale is unclear, as it is unlikely that the City will be facing a rash of retail marijuana applicants.
As I discussed in my prior post, it is not unexpected that cities and counties would enact their own caps on retail stores even though it appears that at least for now, the LCB is willing to let the marketplace determine how many stores can locate per jurisdiction. The problem with these caps and moratoria is that they undermine the goal of bringing medical dispensaries into the I502 retail system.
Overly restrictive zoning and moratoria only hinders the development of the legal marijuana market. Unless cities and counties are willing to allow legal marijuana businesses to operate like any other legal business, the illegal black market will continue to thrive.
For more information on the regulation of marijuana businesses, please contact Heather Wolf.