After only two people spoke during a public hearing on Prosser’s marijuana moratorium, City Council members plan to discuss the matter more at a workshop next week.
City Administrator David Stockdale said council members will likely forward the issue to the Planning Commission for a recommendation by March, when the moratorium expires.
“Anything and everything is on the table,” Stockdale said in a phone interview Thursday.
The city imposed a six-month moratorium on additional marijuana retailers in September after learning that a third shop was planning to locate within the city. Officials believe that having three marijuana shops with Prosser addresses would be too much for the Lower Valley city.
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During the hearing on the moratorium at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Prosser School District Superintendent Ray Tolcacher and an employee of a marijuana shop both expressed support for limiting the number of marijuana retailers in the city.
“A third shop will be a little much in Prosser,” said Tanya Harris, the purchasing manager at the Altitude shop in Prosser, noting that it would cause congestion and could affect people’s attitudes toward marijuana.
“I do not want to see any more negative publicity come from marijuana. I want it to be a positive, useful experience for people,” Harris said.
Tolcacher, in a letter read at the council meeting, said allowing a third marijuana shop in the city would not be in the best interests of the district’s students.
“The school district was very concerned when the city of Prosser allowed the first marijuana store to be opened within the boundaries of the city of Prosser,” Tolcacher wrote.
“At the time, we said that the message the city was sending was very harmful.”
Schools have seen an increase in youth marijuana use, Tolcacher said, and in some cases the children have said the marijuana was purchased legally by adults.
Once the moratorium is over, the city should not approve any new shops, Tolcacher wrote.
Harris, with Altitude, said she teaches her teenage children that marijuana is like alcohol — something that can be used only by adults 21 and older.
In 2012, state voters approved an initiative legalizing recreational marijuana production, processing, selling and use. However, cities are allowed to restrict marijuana operations through land-use law and business-license regulations.
If Prosser were to ban marijuana shops, Stockdale said any existing shops would be allowed to continue operating as non-conforming uses.