Most of the time, proposals for ordinances heading to the Tacoma City Council come with a clear recommendation vetted by public employees and volunteers on municipal commissions.
That won’t be the case Tuesday when the council considers new regulations on retail marijuana stores.
Instead, the proposal on the council’s agenda looks like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book with at least three options that elected officials can pick from as they set rules for the burgeoning industry.
Council members are getting a divided recommendation because the Planning Commission and employees in the Planning Division came to different conclusions about how the city should regulate the new stores after they spent much of the past year studying marijuana policy, Planning Division manager Brian Boudet told the council last week.
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The Planning Commission favored a laissez-faire approach that would allow marijuana shops to cluster near each other and permit growing collectives to operate almost anywhere in the city.
The commission also recommended against placing a local cap on recreational cannabis shops, potentially opening the door to state regulators allowing more than the current limit of 16 marijuana retailers in Tacoma.
City planners, by contrast, want to reinforce that Tacoma should have no more than 16 cannabis shops, require marijuana retailers be at least 500 feet apart and prohibit growing collectives from operating within 1,000 feet of schools.
A third choice would let the council follow regulations set by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board.
The new regulations aim to get ahead of a state law that is expected to cull medical marijuana stores, bringing them into the fold of the initiative voters passed in 2012 legalizing cannabis.
Medical marijuana stores either will receive a state license or be compelled to close down.
Council members might pick and choose from the recommendations or suggest other policies.
Councilman Ryan Mello, for instance, said he plans to suggest changes that would set certain design standards for marijuana stores.
He also wants to develop “a merit-based system” for the city to consider when it weighs applications from older medical marijuana clinics applying for a limited number of state licenses.
The council is expected to hear public comment about the proposal this week. It likely won’t adopt a final law until next month. City planners say this week’s meeting represents the public’s best opportunity to offer opinions before the council makes its decision.
If you go
The Tacoma City Council meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Tacoma Municipal Building, 747 Market St.
For more information, go to cityoftacoma.org/planning.