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County to conduct public hearing on legal pot rules on Feb. 4

MONTESANO — Grays Harbor County is moving forward with developing rules where marijuana can be grown, processed and sold. The county’s Planning Commission will tackle the matter during a special session set for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 4 at the County Administration Building in Montesano.

The meeting includes a public hearing period. And it may be the only chance for residents to chime in as to how recreational marijuana should be addressed in the county.

John Kliem, a consultant hired by the county to facilitate the process, told the county commissioners on Monday that further public comment directly to the commissioners won’t be required unless they planned on making changes to the recommendations made by the Planning Commission.

The recommendations would allow marijuana retail stores to be located in areas zoned general development (G-1 and G-5), general commercial (G-5) and in a special zone around Lake Quinault.

Growing and processing would be allowed in typical agricultural growing areas, as well as light industrial and industrial.

Public Works Director Kevin Varness said the county leaned on treating the growing of legal marijuana like any other crop.

Dozens of applications for growing, processing and retail outlets have been submitted to the state Liquor Control Board to locate within county limits. Licenses are expected to be issued in the next couple of months.

Kliem advised the commissioners that they ought to move forward on approving the rules before the licenses are issued.

The county let its moratorium on marijuana expire at the end of last year. The new rules don’t address medical marijuana dispensaries or collective gardens. That will be addressed later, Kliem said.