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Grays Harbor could get six marijuana retail outlets

Photo by Blind Nomad (under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
Photo by Blind Nomad (under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

OLYMPIA — Grays Harbor County could soon see up to six retail outlets selling recreational marijuana under new rules approved Wednesday by the state Liquor Control Board. The board was tasked with coming up with the rules to comply with the voter-approved Initiative 502.

Aberdeen, Hoquiam and Ocean Shores were each specifically delegated one retail outlet while Grays Harbor as a whole was delegated three stores. Stores could be open as soon as next June, if all the rules move forward.

Any outlet would have to be 1,000 feet away from a playground, school, child care center or government-owned recreation center. One of the proposed rules notes that the 1,000 feet would not be calculated on a straight line from a map or “as the crow flies,” but as if one were driving from one spot to another.

The filing of proposed supplemental rules that, if ultimately enacted, will help govern Washington State’s system of producing, processing and retailing recreational marijuana, according to a press release from the Liquor Control Board. Five public comment hearings were conducted to craft the rules and more public comment will be taken before the rules are ultimately enacted.

The board delegated retail stores based on population from the 2010 U.S. Census and specifically delegated retail stores for the larger cities of counties.

Many cities across the Harbor, including Elma, McCleary, Oakville and Hoquiam have approved moratoriums on retail outlets and medical marijuana dispensaries as rules were becoming firm. The county commissioners recently approved a moratorium, as well, and is well under way in deciding how to handle zoning for not just future retail outlets but potential growing operations, as well.

Looking at similar counties of population, Clallam was granted six retail outlets, Cowlitz received seven and Mason five.

The city of Montesano wasn’t specifically targeted for a retail outlet, however, it could end up with one of the “at large” stores. The city has no moratorium on either medical marijuana dispensaries, retail outlets or growing operations. Council members consistently point out that the city’s zoning already protects the city and no further steps are necessary to plan for legal marijuana operations.

“These rules fulfill the public expectation of creating a tightly-regulated and controlled system while providing reasonable access to participation in the market, Board Chair Sharon Foster said in a press release. “Importantly, we believe these rules meet the eight federal government enforcement priorities within Thursday’s guidance memo from the Department of Justice.”

The full press release is as follows:

Key Public Safety Elements

Public safety is the top priority of the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

  • All grows must meet strictly controlled on-site security requirements;
  • Strict surveillance and transportation requirements;
  • Robust traceability software system that will track inventory from start to sale;
  • Criminal background checks on all license applicants;
  • Tough penalty guidelines for public safety violations including loss of license;
  • Restricting certain advertising that may be targeted at children.

Key Consumer Safety Elements

The proposed rules provide a heightened level of consumer safety that has not existed previously.

  • Packaging and label requirements including dosage and warnings;
  • Child-resistant packaging for marijuana in solid and liquid forms;
  • Only lab tested and approved products will be available;
  • Defined serving sizes and package limits on marijuana in solid form;
  • Store signage requirements to educate customers.

Revisions to the Rules

Below are selected highlights found in the revised rules.

Production Limits

  • Limits the total amount of marijuana to be produced at 40 metric tons
  • Sets the maximum amount of space for marijuana production at two million square feet

Production Tiers

  • Creates three production tiers based on square footage
    • Tier 1 – less than 2000 square feet
    • Tier 2 – 2000 to 10,000 square feet
    • Tier 3 – 10,000 to 30,000 square feet

Market Control Limits

  • Limited any entity and/or principals within any entity to three producer or processor licenses
  • Limited any principal and or entity to no more than three retail licenses with no multiple location licensee allowed more than 33 percent of the allowed licenses in any county or city

On-Site Product Limits

  • Established the maximum amount of marijuana allowed on a producer licensee’s premises at any time based on the type of grow operation (indoor, outdoor, greenhouse)

1,000 Foot Buffer Measurement

  • Changed the way the 1,000 foot buffer is measured from to “along the most direct route over or across established public walks, streets, or other public passageway between the proposed building/business locations to the perimeter of the grounds of the entities listed”

Definitions

  • Added a definition for “plant canopy” to clarify what area is considered in the square footage calculation for marijuana producers
  • Revised the definition of “Public Park” to include parks owned or managed by a metropolitan park district. Clarified that trails are not included in the definition of “Public Park ”
  • Revised the definition of “recreation center or facility.” Added the language “owned and/or managed by a charitable non-profit organization, city, county, state, or federal government”

Advertising

  • Added language requiring all advertising and labels of useable marijuana and marijuana infused products may not contain any statement or illustration that is false or misleading.

Retail Stores

In addition to the revisions to the rules, the Board today also identified the number and allocation of retail stores. Per Initiative 502, the WSLCB applied a method that allocates retail store locations using Office of Financial Management (OFM) population with a cap on the number of retail stores per county.

Using OFM population data as well as adult consumption data supplied by the state’s marijuana consultant – BOTEC Analysis Corporation — the Board allocated a maximum of 334 outlets statewide. The most populous cities within the county are allocated a proportionate number of stores and at-large stores available to serve other areas of the county.

Timeline

  • December 6, 2012 Effective date of new law
  • September 4, 2013

    File Supplemental CR 102 with revised proposed rules

  • October 9, 2013 Public hearing(s) on proposed rules (time and location TBD)
  • October 16, 2013

    Board adopts or rejects proposed rules (CR 103)

  • November 16, 2013 Rules become effective
  • November 18, 2013

    Begin accepting applications for all three licenses (30-day window)

  • December 1, 2013 Deadline for rules to be complete (as mandated by law)
  • December 18, 2013

    30-day window closes for producer, processor and retailer license applications