ZILLAH, Wash. — This Lower Valley city has become the second in Yakima County to adopt an ordinance regulating medical marijuana gardens and dispensaries should federal law allow them.
During a regular meeting Monday night, the council approved the proposed ordinance that puts heavy licensing requirements on such operations and restrictions on where they can be located. But the ordinance won’t go into effect unless federal law changes to allow such operations, Mayor Gary Clark said.
“There’s so much confusion right now as to who’s controlling what,” he said.
Like most cities, Zillah finds itself in an uncomfortable conflict between state law, which allows medical marijuana gardens and dispensaries, and federal law, which doesn’t. Several Yakima Valley cities, including Yakima, enacted moratoriums against them while they figure out whether to draft regulations or ban them altogether.
Under Zillah’s ordinance, gardens are not allowed within 1,000 feet of schools, day care centers, churches or public facilities, such as parks and other medical marijuana gardens. Such operations must not be visible to the public and there must be adequate lighting and security around the buildings that house them. Operators must obtain a permit from the city and keep on hand documentation of all qualifying patients.
Operators would also be required to pay a $2,500 licensing fee every two years, and could only have up to 10 qualifying patients and no more than 15 plants per patient, according to the ordinance.
In August, Wapato, also in the Lower Valley, became the first city in Yakima County to adopt such an ordinance governing medical marijuana grows and dispensers. But like Zillah, Wapato’s ordinance doesn’t go into effect unless there is a change in federal law.
“It would be a lot easier if everybody could get on the same page,” Clark said.