Bethel City Council Introduces Marijuana Regulations

May 27, 2016

Bethel City Council came one step closer to making history Tuesday night when it introduced the first ever ordinance regulating the commercial marijuana industry in Bethel. 

The council unanimous voted to introduce the ordinance Tuesday.

Among points discussed, the group debated the city's ability to control how marijuana is advertised to the public.

The new ordinance would bar the use of online advertising, allowing only traditional media like TV or newspapers. But Mayor Rick Rob had concerns.

“Of course we don’t want targeting advertisement to minors or anything like that, but I’m just wondering about the constitutionality of that under the first amendment, freedom of speech. And that’s the thing that’s glaring out at me, I don’t know if it’s actually constitutional to say that part, ” Robb said.

Robb says he's afraid the city might be sued over these choices and suggested they rework them.

Another concern from council was the section of the proposed ordinance that disallows open containers of marihuana in vehicles. Members found the language defining open containers of marijuana confusing.

“This isn’t as easy as alcohol here," Council Member Zach Fansler said. "If you’ve opened a can of beer, it’s now an open container. Or if you have a bottle of wine that you’ve popped the cork on, you now have an open container."

Fansler introduced the ordinance and sat on the committee that drafted it. He says many of the proposed rules needed modification, and the introduction is just a first attempt.

“There was an importance to get these codes in place before businesses would maybe be getting licensed. But there was no thought that this would be the final thing,'" Fansler said. 

The council meeting began at 6:30 p.m. with all members present. The meeting adjourned after midnight.