By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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Local jurisdictions on the North Olympic Peninsula will be asked to comment on the business license applications that were filed by Clallam and Jefferson County entrepreneurs within a 30-day window that closed Dec. 20.
Cities and counties will have 20 days to tell the state Liquor Control Board whether they support, oppose or take no position on a pot business that meets state requirements.
“We'll definitely look at them,” Clallam County Planning Manager Steve Gray said.
The state Liquor Board has developed a tightly-regulated system for the new recreational marijuana law that voters approved as Initiative 502 in November 2012.
The onus falls on the soon-to-be-named growers, processors and retailers to comply with local zoning as well as state law.
Of the 3,746 marijuana business license applications that were filed statewide, 108 were filed in Clallam and Jefferson counties.
No Peninsula local government will attempt to block the law that legalized pot for adults 21 and older, officials said.
“Jefferson County is looking for any applicant to meet state rules and requirements — the licensing requirements — and also to comply with land use regulations,” Jefferson County Administrator Philip Morley said Friday, echoing what officials with other jurisdictions said.
“Beyond that, we're not looking at any new legislation.”
While there is no limit on the number of growers of processors that will be eligible for a license, the Liquor Board will cap retail pot shops at six in Clallam County and four in Jefferson County.
That means nearly two-thirds of the 28 applications from would-be pot sellers on the Peninsula will be denied.
Liquor Board spokesman Brian Smith has said the marijuana licenses will be issued this spring, with pot stores opening in June.
After taking input from the cities and counties, the state will hold a lottery to determine which qualified applicants will receive a marijuana retail license.
No date for the lottery has been set.
So far, the state has asked Jefferson County to weigh in on two applications on the growing and processing side, but not retail.
Jefferson County officials replied that the producer had met local requirements but the processor had not filed the appropriate paperwork.
In Clallam County, a marijuana retailer would be permitted in certain commercial zones, Gray said.
A pot store would go before the county hearing examiner only if the zoning required a conditional use permit.
“Basically they will be subject to our current processes,” Gray said.
Clallam County Administrator Jim Jones has said the county has no way to affect a legal business from operating except through building and land-use codes and environmental health regulations because counties don't require a business license as cities do.
Gray added that the regulation of legal marijuana is “really a state responsibility.”
The Sequim Planning Commission will hold a hearing on marijuana zoning for retail, producing and processing on Jan. 7.
City Attorney Craig Ritchie said Sequim “really hasn't taken a position” on the marijuana law.
However, Ritchie said the city would likely deny a business license for a pot shop in a residential area.
“I think a marijuana retailer is similar to a drug store as a target for crime,” Ritchie said. “We want them in a place that is easier to protect.”
Buffer zones, background checks
Under state law, a marijuana retailer must be at least 1,000 feet away from a school, playground, recreation center, child care center, park, transit center, library or arcade that allows minors.
The state will conduct background checks on those applying for a marijuana license.
PA, Forks, PT
Port Angeles and Forks officials have said they are monitoring the implementation of Initiative 502 but have taken no formal position.
The Port Townsend City Council approved a six-month moratorium on retail marijuana stores last August. The moratorium will expire Feb. 5.
Port Townsend, which was authorized to have one pot shop, is working on permit regulations for the marijuana law, City Manager David Timmons said.
“We're not opposing it,” Timmons said. “We're basically trying to facilitate the proper location.”
He added: “We're working to implement the law.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at email@example.com.