Man seeking pot grow permit could buy one

Charges being considered against applicant

PORT ANGELES — A man deputies hope to see charged with illegally growing and processing marijuana could buy a marijuana license to do the same thing legally with state permission — and if his conditional use permit is approved — even though none are available from the state Liquor and Cannabis Board.

Port Angeles businessman Dong Mai would purchase the authorization from current license-holder in the state of Washington, said Port Angeles Lawyer Craig Miller, who is representing Mai for the permit.

“There’s a fairly lively secondary market in pot licenses these days,” Miller said last week.

Mai would grow and process hydroponic marijuana inside an RV repair shop he would convert and expand on a Nicholas Road parcel he owns off Tumwater Truck Route where nearly 600 illegal plants growing inside the shop and a house were confiscated Dec. 8.

In a wide-ranging operation, area law enforcement seized more than 3,100 plants and $5 million-$10 million of growing and processed marijuana Dec. 8 from five Clallam County properties owned by Mai.

Julie Gardiner, who also represents Mai for his permit application, said her client was unaware his property was being used for that purpose.

The Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is reviewing a recommendation by the Sheriff’s Office that Mai should be charged with five counts of five counts of illegally manufacturing marijuana and five counts of unlawful use of a building for drug purposes, Class C felonies.

The permit is being reviewed by the county Department of Community and Economic Development.

A staff report scheduled for release by Tuesday has been rescheduled for March 19 after the comment period for the project’s State Environmental Policy Act (SEA) permit was extended, Associate Planner Ben Braudrick said Thursday.

“It is required to be presented to [the Department of Ecology] on their SEPA register and we did not get it to them, so we resubmitted it,” Braudrick said.

Soho Herbals LLC, which Mai owns, submitted the conditional use permit application on Nov. 18, three weeks before the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team raided his properties. He was not arrested.

The criminal record of applicants is factored into the granting of growing, manufacturing and retail marijuana licenses, state Liquor and Cannabis Board spokesperson Julie Graham said last week.

“We have zero new permits available so they would need to either buy a permit from someone who already owns one, (they would still have to submit the true parties of interest, the criminal info, and the sale could be denied if the new owners did not meet our standards, etc.) or they would need to already have one elsewhere and apply for a change of address,” she said in an email.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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