Hoquiam officials are one step closer to implementing a ban on all marijuana businesses, with Hoquiam’s Hearing Examiner Eric Toews hosting a public hearing Thursday morning in an effort to gauge public opinion on the measure.
The meeting only lasted about 40 minutes and only three members of the public showed up: Hoquiam City Councilwoman Denise Anderson, Sitka Yoga owner Dawn Hanson and Dave Forbes, who frequently attends Hoquiam meetings.
Both Hanson and Forbes spoke against the ordinance, while Anderson merely observed.
The marijuana ordinance was originally introduced in December as a means to regulate businesses that were legalized by a 2012 voter-approved initiative.
The original ordinance would have limited the businesses to industrial areas of the city, but Councilman Paul McMillan added an amendment at a January meeting, and, if passed, the new version will ban all marijuana businesses within the city limits until the substance is declared legal at the federal level.
Hanson spoke from the perspective of a small business owner, arguing that any new Hoquiam businesses would help the local economy.
“There are a lot of vacant buildings here, and they need tenants who will stay open,” Hanson said. “Small businesses in Hoquiam will benefit from marijuana sales and marijuana foot traffic.”
She also wondered why the city would ban marijuana businesses and allow crude oil transport through the city.
Forbes argued that marijuana businesses won’t adversely impact the city, and that the City of Hoquiam is overstepping its authority.
Both criticized city officials for not publicizing the hearing enough, saying that more community members would have been present if they had known about the event. But City Administrator Brian Shay said he alerted the media and posted the meeting’s details on the city’s website.
“I think if people felt strongly one way or another they would be here,” Shay said.
Toews said he’ll use the information gathered at the public hearing to formulate an official opinion on the matter, which will be available to the city council within 14 days of the hearing.
The Hoquiam City Council will then hold another public hearing regarding the ordinance before voting on the measure.
The date of the public hearing has yet to be announced.