State and municipal regulations concerning possession of marijuana have been changing in Washington state over the past few years, starting in 1998 with voter approval of Initiative 692, which allowed patients with certain terminal or debilitating illnesses to possess 60-day supplies of cannabis.
Then in November 2012, Washington state voters approved Initiative 502 legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for anyone 21 and older, and allowing for the production, processing, and retail sales of marijuana and marijuana-induced products.
Now the Washington State Liquor Control Board is busy processing about 5,000 business applications from individuals and commercial interests wanting to enter the new world of producing, processing or selling marijuana in this state.
Three of those 5,000 state business applications list Mountlake Terrace addresses as their home base, but that is no guarantee any of those applicants will follow through or be able to establish a business in the city; in fact, one applicant is actually wanting to set up its operation in Eastern Washington, not South Snohomish County, while the other two state license applicants are unknown and haven’t even started the process of applying for the necessary city licenses to conduct their operations in the area.
Additionally, the future of medical marijuana collective gardens, a potential new enterprise in Mountlake Terrace, may go up in smoke if the state Liquor Control Board gets its way.
Local marijuana processor/producer state license applicants
State records show two businesses with Mountlake Terrace ties have applied for the state license to produce and process marijuana in operations of 10,001-30,000 square feet. One applicant, The Cascade Gnome, has listed a Mountlake Terrace address on the state license application, but that was only because the paperwork “needed a physical address,” said cannabis law attorney Ben Schuster.
Schuster and a business partner have applied for a license in order to pursue a possible growing and processing operation in southeast Washington. “If we do go through with it, it will have nothing to do with Mountlake Terrace,” Schuster said.
While the business enterprise would be located in the Tri-Cities area, they would certainly sell their marijuana products to any retailer in the state, including in Western Washington, Schuster stated.
The second local applicant for a state producer and processor license is Buddha Consulting, which lists a home address on 238th Street Southwest near 56th Avenue West on its application. Attempts to contact anyone associated with Buddha Consulting were unsuccessful, and any growing and processing operations established by the company would be required to locate in the appropriately-zone area, not in the residential area of central Mountlake Terrace listed on the state application.
Local marijuana retailer state license applicant
State guidelines and recently adopted city regulations will allow one retailer to sell marijuana and marijuana-induced products within the Mountlake Terrace city limits. There is presently one state license applicant wanting to take advantage of those rules: 420 Pot Stop.
The address listed by the marijuana retailer hopeful is 4311-212th St. S.W., #100, currently a vacant storefront in a busy strip mall near the Albertson’s grocery store in Mountlake Terrace. The location most recently housed a photographer’s studio, but has been unoccupied for a little more than a year.
Randal Southam had his photography studio in the the suite from 2011 to 2012 “because we got such a great deal on the rent,” he said. Southam moved out of the space since his business deals almost exclusively with corporate clients, not retail operations.
Southam wasn’t surprised when he heard the location was getting attention from a potential marijuana retailer, something he even considered doing in the space. “It’s just a great location,” he said, “far enough away from schools and parks with great street visibility.” Southam noted the storefront’s current interior layout would work great for marijuana sales, and there’s sufficient parking in the complex for potential customers.
Attempts to contact the applicants responsible for the 420 Pot Stop state applications have been unsuccessful at this point.
Changes coming to city medical marijuana regulations?
In December 2013, the State Liquor Control Board announced that it is recommending a number of changes be made in state laws regulating medical marijuana, including the production and processing of medical marijuana, the legality of collective gardens, patient age limits, patient possession amounts and medical provider requirements.
Concerning cannabis collective gardens, the liquor control board has a straight-forward simple suggestion: outlaw them.
In May 2013, after years of moratoriums against any marijuana grow operations, the Mountlake Terrace City Council approved new regulations allowing medical cannabis collection gardens in specific areas of the city. If the Washington State Legislature pursues the suggestions of the liquor control board and passes legislation that prohibits collective gardens, city officials here would have to abolish the regulations here that allow them.
Concerning medical marijuana regulations, “we have to do what the state tells us,” said Mountlake Terrace Mayor Jerry Smith.
What happens next?
For the recommendations to the state’s medical marijuana regulations, it is now up to the Washington State Legislature to pursue any changes to current law. The 63rd state Legislature convenes for a 60-day session beginning on Jan. 13, but making changes to marijuana laws is not expected to be a big priority in Olympia this winter.
The liquor control board is expected to complete the processing of all the marijuana business license applications that were filed before the Dec. 19 deadline by Jan. 7. Licenses will be issued to approved businesses in February or March, with retail stores expected to be opening throughout the state as early as June.
For potential Mountlake Terrace businesses Buddha Consulting and 420 Pot Stop, obtaining a state license isn’t enough; they – and any other marijuana-related business wanting to set up shop in Mountlake Terrace – would have to acquire a city license also. Officials report that they have received no applications for a city marijuana business license as of yet.
— Story and photo by Doug Petrowski