Port Townsend City Council extends pot growing, processing moratorium; land use public hearing slated March 27

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The City Council has unanimously voted to extend a moratorium on establishing marijuana cultivation and processing facilities within the city limit.

The council voted to accept the city Planning Commission’s recommendation Monday.

A public meeting to collect input about land use and regulations is on the agenda of the next Planning Commission meeting in council chambers in historic City Hall, 540 Water St., at 6:30 p.m. March 27.

The first six-month moratorium was first put into effect in August and renewed in February without formally accepting the commission’s recommendation, something that was required to be considered within 60 days.

The moratorium will be in effect until August and can be either renewed or rescinded by the council, according to Development Services Director Rick Sepler.

The action focuses on marijuana growers and processors.

The action does not affect retail operations, which are to be approved through a lottery of all those outlets qualified to become retailers, Sepler said.

The state Liquor Control Board is implementing the statewide initiative voters approved in November 2012 that legalized and regulated the growing, processing and distribution of marijuana to adults 21 and older.

The state has allotted areas with certain numbers of retail stores. Growers and possessors are not limited in the same way.

Jefferson County will get four retail cannabis stores: one in Port Townsend and three anywhere else.

Neighboring Clallam County is allowed a maximum of six retail stores: two in Port Angeles, one in Sequim and three anywhere else.

Eight businesses have applied for retail licenses in Port Townsend. All but two of these fall within 1,000-foot buffer zones from schools and parks.

Two locations now operating as medical facilities apparently do not qualify because of their proximity to parks: the Townsend Herbal Collective at 1139 Water St. and the Alternative Clinic at 1433 W. Sims Way.

Two locations originally thought to be allowed — 803 N. Park St. and 2328 E. Sims Way, the former home of Akamai Art Supply — were disqualified because of their proximity to Jefferson County Mental Health at 884 W. Park St., since it was decided that it qualifies as a school.

This newly discovered restriction rules out the location of any marijuana enterprise in the business park, Sepler told the council Monday.

The two that are not located within city buffer zones are Herbal Access at 2427 W. Sims Way, now a medical marijuana dispensary, and the Green House at 1230 W. Sims Way near QFC, which will probably not proceed because landlord Ken McBride has been told he will not be able to refinance the property if he rents to a pot business.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 18. 2014 6:27PM
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