Ordinance on growing, processing marijuana goes before Sequim Planning Commission on Tuesday

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– While the sunshine city will likely have a retail marijuana outlet, city officials are eyeing rules to banish those who grow or process recreational marijuana to the outlying areas.

Sequim Community Development Director Chris Hugo will present the planning commission Tuesday night with a proposed ordinance that will define where the city will allow its one-allotted pot shop to be and will outlaw growth or processing of marijuana in city limits.

“That could easily be accommodated out in the county. We have no mandate from the law to allow or encourage production within the city,” Hugo said.

Mayor Ken Hays said he has been approached by a few people asking about what the city’s rules on pot will be as the state readies to implement Initiative 502, the 2012 measure voters approved that legalizes marijuana for recreational use.

“I’ll be interested to see what they send to us,” Hays said of the planning commission.

The planning commission will discuss the ordinance at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Sequim Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St., with the intent of forwarding it to the City Council for consideration at its Jan. 13 meeting, Hugo said.

Under the proposed ordinance, the retail outlet would be confined to the Commercial II and III zones, which allow more dense commercial development.

Those zones limit the store’s location to either the commercial area of East Washington Street east of Blake Avenue or across town on West Washington, west of Seventh Avenue.

“There’s a ton of opportunities in those areas where that one location can be,” Hugo said.

He added Police Chief Bill Dickinson and City Attorney Craig Ritchie told him those locations would be preferable because they are open to the street and easy to patrol.

State rules limiting signage at what will be the city’s only store means it will be “almost invisible,” Hugo said.

According to the Washington Liquor Control Board’s list of applicants for retail marijuana stores, Emanon Systems Inc., Fairview Mercantile, Nature’s Gift and Weeds have applied with locations listed in those zones.

Emanaon has also applied with a location off U.S. Highway 101 at Carlsborg.

Rainshadow Green’s application lists a site at 160 E. Bell St., which is in the city’s downtown core and not in the zone laid out under the city’s proposed ordinance.

The ordinance would banish growing and processing marijuana from inside the city limit.

“We’ve got a lot of rural area out there that sounds like you could grow marijuana just fine,” Hugo said.

The city’s Residential II and Mixed Use zones allow agricultural activities, but Hugo said “marijuana is not considered agriculture under our definition.”

Clallam County will be allowed six retail pot shops: along with the one in Sequim will be two in Port Angeles and three others anywhere else in the county.

Jefferson County will get four cannabis stores under Liquor Board rules: one in Port Townsend and three anywhere else in the county.

There is no limit on the number of growers or processors that will be eligible for licenses.

State investigators have begun reviewing applicants, who must undergo background checks, be residents of Washington state and have their business areas inspected by the state.

The state Liquor Control Board will ask cities and counties to comment on business license applications filed by Clallam and Jefferson counties’ entrepreneurs. There have been 108 filed on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Local government entities have 20 days from the date of state notification to take a position on an applicant or not.

After taking input from the cities and counties, the state will hold a lottery to determine which qualified applicants will receive a marijuana retail licence.

No date for the lottery has been set.

Port Angeles and Forks officials have said they are monitoring the implementation of Initiative 502 but have taken no formal positions.

The Port Townsend City Council approved a six-month moratorium on marijuana businesses last August that will expire in February.

The Port Townsend Planning Commission is expected to consider asking the council to extend the moratorium to provide more time to develop a strategy for allowing home-based businesses to grow and process marijuana — and has asked for public comment on such businesses.

Clallam and Jefferson county officials have said they will look to see that applicants meet state rules and land use regulations.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant and Reporter Rob Ollikainen contributed to this story.

Last modified: January 05. 2014 7:17PM
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