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Polson establishes task force to regulate recreational marijuana

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The City of Polson has established a Marijuana Task Force to begin developing initial strategies and recommendations for regulating recreational marijuana. Sales of legal pot are set to begin Jan. 1 under guidelines passed by the 2021 Legislature. 

At the city commission meeting on Sept. 8, city manager Ed Meece noted that the commission and public can review documents compiled by the task force on the city website at

He hopes to present recommendations to the commission at its meeting Oct. 18. Draft strategies would prohibit the use of marijuana on all city property, including streets, sidewalks, alleys, buildings and facilities; and stipulate that marijuana must be transported in or through town in sealed, non-transparent, childproof containers.

Marijuana retailers would require special business licenses, tentatively set at $300 annually, need to be located at least 500 feet from schools or churches, and confine hours of operation to 9 a.m.-9 p.m. The preliminary ordinance bans vending machines or drive-up windows and prohibits those under 18 from frequenting the premises. 

The task force also recommends meeting with all local municipalities, and county and tribal government to “to collaborate on consistent regulation.” 

Meece plans to meet with the Lake County Commissioners Tuesday, Sept. 14, to encourage a ballot initiative imposing a local 3% tax on recreational marijuana. 

In other matters, Meece mentioned that city staff is crafting a business license ordinance with input from the Polson Chamber of Commerce and business community. Meece expects to introduce the proposed ordinance at the meeting in mid October.

Matters before the commission included the approval of the city’s first comprehensive update to fee schedules in several years. After a brief public hearing to present fees for the coming year, the commission reconvened and unanimously approved fees for the building and planning departments. 

Finance officer Cindy Dooley was praised for her efforts to develop a more accessible, public-friendly document, “which will definitely make it easier for Polson citizens to understand fees,” said commissioner Carolyn Pardini.

Fees for the Parks Department weren’t included, but will appear later this fall for commission consideration. The city recommends that park fees be returned to their full amount after being reduced by 40% in 2016. 

In other business:

• The commission unanimously adopted an amendment to the city code, changing the number of members on the Economic Development Council from seven to ten, with three permanent seats for members of the Polson Chamber of Commerce, Polson Business Community and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. 

• Commissioners unanimously voted down a request from the Polson School District to waive impact fees of $18,441 for a meter connection at the new Linderman Gym. Initially, the district planned to abandon an existing two-inch connection in favor of a new three-inch connection, which the city considered a neutral impact. The district later decided to keep the two-inch connection as well for irrigation purposes, which significantly upped the school’s water-meter capacity. 

As required by city ordinance, an impact fee review board met Aug. 31, and after hearing from both city and school representatives, voted 5-0 to recommend the commission deny the district’s request. 

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