The passage of Amendment 64, which legalizes recreational marijuana use for those 21 and over, has prompted the Delta City Council to approve a moratorium on marijuana businesses within city limits.
Council members will formally adopt an emergency ordinance imposing a nine-month moratorium at their next meeting.
The state law will go into effect sometime in January unless the federal government intervenes, city manager Justin Clifton informed council members. The state has until July 2013 to create regulations governing businesses that will sell marijuana.
"I wanted to come before council right away so you could consider your options," he said. "We want to be out in front of the issue."
The city currently prohibits medical marijuana dispensaries. Clifton reminded council members of the events that shaped that decision.
In November 2009, council adopted an ordinance declaring a moratorium on dispensaries. An ordinance amending city code followed in February 2011. Medical marijuana proponents challenged that ordinance through a citizen-led referendum. The question then went to Delta voters in July 2011, who upheld the ordinance prohibiting dispensaries 1,215 votes to 564.
Clifton noted that Delta County voted against Amendment 64 by a margin of 56-44 percent. Precinct results show it was also defeated in city limits, he said.
"There is adequate precedence if the city wants to move forward with imposing a moratorium or move quickly
to prohibit the sale of marijuana," he said. "There has been ample discussion on the topic. However, I understand this is a different type of amendment and a different approach in law. I don't know what will happen over the coming months.
Council members selected the nine-month period to give them an opportunity to see what the state puts together and how other communities handle the issue.
Clifton said it's likely most law enforcement agencies will cease issuing citations for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana by adults 21 and older. Amendment 64 also includes provisions for marijuana cultivation.
"Generally, law enforcement agencies will be giving deference to this constitutional amendment," he said. "Of course, if the feds determine Amendment 64 is unconstitutional because it violates federal law, this could become a non-issue."blog comments powered by Disqus