Board tells city it does not want retail marijuana

The PSD unanimously passes resolution to present the city council against retail pot

Staff writerMay 28, 2014 

The Peninsula School District Board of Directors will present an official resolution to the Gig Harbor City Council, asking the council to consider additional restrictions, including an outright ban, on retail marijuana in city limits.

The board approved the official language of the resolution unanimously. A six-month moratorium on retail marijuana was passed by the city council April 14. The city council will hold a public hearing on the moratorium at its June 9 meeting.

A public records request by the Gateway reveals that six feedback emails were sent regarding the resolution. All six emails opposed passage of the resolution, many of them mentioning that Initiative 502 passed 54 percent to 45 percent in Gig Harbor.

Board President Harlan Gallinger claims that the of the six emails, only one comes directly from a community member. The other five are linked to business interests and a former student, under the legal age limit for retail marijuana.

“The argument here is not about marijuana,” one letter reads. “It’s about the overreach of authority, the overrule of the majority of the public and the setting of a very dangerous precedent that will lead us down a very slippery slope.”

The resolution the board passed, however, does not set policy for the city. Board member Matt Wilkinson described the resolution as a way for the board to have its feelings on record with the city.

Gallinger said that while feedback claiming the school board’s resolution to the city has no bearing on education, it’s still the board’s duty to remove barriers to student success.

“This has everything to do with education,” he said.

In a previous meeting, when the resolution was first discussed, Gallinger drew on his own work as an emergency room physician.

He told the board that when he treats methamphetiamine and heroin cases, he asks about a first experience with drugs.

“Every one in the past 10 years has said marijuana is the one and the average age they started is 12 or 13,” he said at the May 9 meeting.

Tedd Wetherbee, who holds a retail license for The Gallery, said that retail businesses will bring tougher restrictions on the drug.

Mike Henery, a 502 retailer, said that retail outlets will be better monitored than medical marijuana outlets. Purchasers will be carded, the drug will be taxed and only available to buyers 21 and over.

At a medical dispensary, those 18 and above are legally allowed to buy marijuana.

Henery, who also provided email feedback, addressed the board both as a father of children in the district and as an investor in a retail marijuana outlet.

“I understand why you feel the need to look out for children and keep marijuana out of kids hands,” Henery said. “(But) I think that the approach you’re taking is misguided.”

At the heart of the issue are two district-owned properties that house the Career Transition Program, CTP, and the Peninsula Internet Academy, PIA.

The CTP and PIA programs are not listed as schools on official maps from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

In the resolution, the board acknowledges that the facilities are not defined as “schools” by the OSPI, but feel that retail marijuana is still “unacceptable... in proximity to any educational facility that serves students.”

Wetherbee told the board he objected to the resolution. He said that when choosing his business, he used the OSPI maps and the programs are not marked.

“We had no intention of doing anything near students...,” Wetherbee said. “We had no idea that building was there.”

The board will next meet at 6 p.m. June 5 at the district office.

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