After months of deliberation, the Hoquiam City Council approved an ordinance allowing marijuana retail businesses within city limits.
With the passage of the measure Monday night, recreational marijuana retail businesses are allowed in commercial and industrial zones of the city while production and processing businesses are only allowed in industrial areas. Medical marijuana businesses are banned within city limits.
“Well, we did it,” said Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney. “Thank you very much. We’ve done well.”
The ordinance passed with a vote of eight to four, with council members Greg Grun, Darrin Moir, John Pellegrini and Paul McMillan voting against it. Moir tried unsuccessfully to amend the measure to ban marijuana retail sales within city limits.
“I don’t support the marijuana business in any way, shape or form in the City of Hoquiam,” Moir said.
The amendment, he argued, would be a compromise.
But Councilman Richard Pennant argued that the council members should pass the ordinance as proposed, following the will of citizens that approved Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana in Washington.
“I think it’s relatively simple to go along with this as written,” Pennant said. “I would suggest that we just get on with this and pass the thing.”
He argued that he was against legalizing marijuana and voted against the initiative — but he set aside his beliefs when it came to regulations in the city.
However, Pennant was formerly in the running to open a marijuana business within Hoquiam city limits, but withdrew his application for a state license after the council began discussing a marijuana ordinance. He also tried on multiple occasions to convince other council members to approve an ordinance allowing businesses in Hoquiam.
Moir said that it’s the council’s job to make decisions in the best interest of the city — regardless of constituents’ voting history.
“They don’t necessarily make decisions — when they vote — that are in the best interest of the city as a whole,” Moir said.
The council also approved an ordinance amending a portion of city code that would have prohibited marijuana businesses from receiving business licenses because they aren’t legal under federal law.
Grun expressed some confusion about why the second ordinance was necessary.
“You need this for the other part to work?” Grun asked.
“It’s needed to license a business that we’ve already decided is legal,” Durney responded.