CLALLAM: County, city governments quiet on recreational pot law

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

Clallam County and its three incorporated cities have taken no position on the recreational marijuana law.

The state Liquor Control Board on Wednesday approved new rules for the legal cannabis industry that allow for six recreational marijuana outlets in Clallam County.

Clallam and Jefferson counties are both eligible to have three “at large” retail pot licenses.

Additionally, Port Angeles gets two pot stores, while Port Townsend and Sequim were allocated one each.

The state rules, which cover security and size of marijuana gardens, allow for a total of 334 marijuana outlets in the state. Those stores are expected to be open for business by next summer.

The Port Townsend City Council last month approved a six-month moratorium on granting business licenses for recreational marijuana stores.

The Port Angeles, Sequim and Forks city councils have had no discussions about such a moratorium.

“The city [of Port Angeles] has taken no position on recreational marijuana,” said Nathan West, Port Angeles director of community and economic development, in an email.

“We are aware of pending litigation and actions taking place in other jurisdictions,” he continued.

“Such decisions and outcomes may impact future city decisions before we move forward with any policy recommendations to council.

“Presently, state recreational marijuana legislation restricts the location of these establishments in proximity to other uses such as parks and schools,” West added.

“As a result of these state restrictions, there are very few locations in Port Angeles where recreational marijuana sales could be established.”

Sequim City Attorney Craig Ritchie said marijuana outlets have to be at least 1,000 feet from schools and parks.

“Basically, the state does almost all of the work,” Ritchie said of the law's implementation.

“We might end up doing some zoning to make sure we've got the right places.”

He added: “I don't think it's going to very dramatic.”

A marijuana store likely would be zoned heavy commercial zone because of the high value of the product, Ritchie said.

He said five or six Sequim residents have expressed an interest in opening a marijuana store.

“They'll have to get in line,” Ritchie said.

Forks City Attorney and Planner Rod Fleck said staff is reviewing how the marijuana law will play out.

“It's something we're monitoring,” he said.

At a recent city attorney's conference in Walla Walla, there was some confusion about whether a county's “at large” retail pot stores could go into a city not assigned its own store, Fleck said.

Clallam County, which does not require business licenses as cities do, has “no way to affect any legal business from operating in our county except through building and land use codes and environmental health regulations,” county Administrator Jim Jones wrote in an email.

County Planning Manager Steve Gray said the county has no new building or land-use codes specific to the law and no related proposals for ordinance changes pending.

“We have not done anything to specifically address the new law taking effect,” Jones said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 20. 2013 5:43PM
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