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Marijuana petition withdrawn; new council may settle question

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An effort to legalize marijuana sales and cultivation within the City of Delta has taken a new direction.

Christi Prettyman was circulating a petition asking city council to repeal the ordinance that prohibits marijuana sales and cultivation in the City of Delta. Citing family issues, she said last week she is withdrawing the petition, as well as her intention to run for city council.

If she had gathered a sufficient number of signatures on the petition, she would have taken it to city council asking for repeal of the ordinance that's been on the books since 2013. City council is authorized to reaffirm or to repeal the ordinance without a vote of the citizens. But if the council had declined to repeal the marijuana ordinance, the question would have gone to the voters, in accordance with state statutes.

Instead, Prettyman said she plans to wait until two new council members are seated in April, then take the request to city council. A petition is not required for council to act, but was primarily intended to demonstrate community interest, then to spur a vote of the people. Even though voters won't be asked to approve marijuana sales, Delta's citizens will still have an opportunity to let their opinions be known.

"If the citizens of Delta elect council members who are known to be pro-cannabis, then that's the direction the population wants to go," Prettyman concluded after consulting with her attorney.

"Whoever gets elected ... the people will have spoken," she said.

The fact that the petition was being circulated opened a discussion about marijuana zoning and taxation. To be proactive, Delta Planning Commission and Delta City Council members have been reviewing proposals for the zoning of retail marijuana stores, marijuana cultivation facilities, retail marijuana products manufacturing and marijuana testing facilities within the City of Delta.

The final decision on zoning rests with the city council, but voter approval is required to levy taxes on marijuana sales. Two questions authorizing the collection of sales and excise taxes on marijuana, if sales are allowed, will appear on the April 3 ballot, along with the candidates for two council seats. Currently, Jay Stooksberry and Kevin Carlson are circulating

nominating petitions for the at-large seat. Nathan Clay is running for the District C council seat. Candidates have until Jan. 22 to return signed petitions, so it's possible other candidates could step forward.

The municipal election will be conducted by mail. The county clerk's office will send out ballots in mid-March.

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