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Methadone, marijuana planning move ahead — Bremerton city planners grapple with both

Bremerton city planners hope to submit their first recommendations on where methadone clinics should be allowed to the planning committee within a month, according to officials.

Both medical marijuana collective gardens and methadone clinics were the subject of moratoria, passed Aug. 17 and July 22, respectively.

Any recommendations the planning office may have on medical marijuana collective gardens, another contentious issue the office has been tasked with studying, will not come until a much later date, said Allison Daniels, a community development project manager charged with coming up with recommendations on both issues.

Andrea Spencer, director of the community development office, said that slow progress, with creating zoning laws that deal with methadone clinics and collective medical marijuana grows, was to be expected.

In addition to creating actual recommendations for both, state law requires her office to give the State Department of Commerce 60 days to comment on any proposed changes to city land use codes.

City planners hope to submit a first set of recommendations to the city planning commission at their monthly meeting, Oct. 18, Spencer said.

Evergreen Treatment Services, a developer of methadone treatment facilities, pulled its bid on a Bremerton location shortly after City Council’s vote to extend the moratorium, said Ron Jackson, the company’s executive director.

Daniels, is currently researching both issues.

“Even if they did pull their bid, we still have to address it for any other clinic that comes in,” Daniels said. “There’s a hole in our code and we need to fix it.”

Daniels said her office is also working to figure out where collective marijuana gardens could fit into the city’s land use code.

The process is similar for both, said Daniels: planners learn about laws surrounding the issue, talk to planners in other cities about how they have dealt with the issue and, and finally make a recommendation to the City Council about how to revise the city code.

Daniels heard back from about half the planning departments she contacted. Most did not treat methadone clinics differently from regular medical clinics, she said. Occasionally they are regulated under the same category as addiction treatment or detox centers, she said.

Daniels said, most of the municipalities studied treated applications from methadone clinics as administrative decisions, without additional public comment.

Much less progress had been made, Daniels said, in researching collective marijuana gardens, which only became an issue after the Aug. 17 City Council meeting.

A July 22 state senate bill allowed collective marijuana gardens so that those with medical marijuana authorizations could grow their own medicine, said city attorney Roger Lubovich.

That puts the city law, which currently prohibits collective gardens of any type, in conflict with state law, Lubovich said.

A moratorium on the collective gardens was put in place during the same Aug. 17 council meeting, according to council meeting minutes, because the city’s current code only addresses collective gardens in general, and not collective marijuana gardens.

Since the state law conflicts with federal law on the issue, which still bans all forms of marijuana cultivation, Lubovich said, it’s also an issue of deciding which law the city should follow.

State law forbids the outright banning of methadone clinics and collective medical marijuana gardens.

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