Starting immediately, Tacoma will not sanction more marijuana shops, even if they are issued a license by the state.
The Tacoma City Council unanimously passed what’s commonly called a moratorium on new pot shops at its Tuesday meeting.
The moratorium puts a pause on permits and business licenses until the Planning Commission can come up with new rules to address the number of storefronts the city will allow, and whether to require shops to locate apart from one another.
Typically a moratorium lasts six months, but city officials expect rule-making to be completed by April or May. All nine of the existing state-licensed recreational marijuana stores in Tacoma can remain open during the moratorium.
The moratorium could pose problems for some of the city’s medical marijuana shops. They are not allowed under city code, but the city had been largely looking the other way until last year when it decided to start enforcing the rules.
Tacoma sent letters to 60-plus medical cannabis storefronts and told them they had a choice: Close immediately, or apply for a license with the state. Those shops that had operated here for years, had paid taxes and had a state business license could remain open until July or so.
With a moratorium in place, those shops will have to remain illicit for a while longer even if they are legitimized by the state.
“No (city) business licenses will be issued during the moratorium,” city attorney Elizabeth Pauli said Tuesday. “That’s what I will be recommending.”
Without a city license, the city could suspend operations of the business, she said. Pauli said the city will use “common sense” in deciding whether to close marijuana shops that get state licenses during the city’s moratorium.
The state Liquor and Cannabis Board could issue more retail marijuana licenses in Tacoma at any time — and it won’t wait for the city to sort out whatever rules it wants to create, board spokesman Brian Smith said Tuesday. The state has allocated 16 licenses for Tacoma.