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Property owner urges council not to ban marijuana businesses

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman

At the city’s public hearing about a marijuana moratorium, only one citizen spoke up, but she gave several reasons that a ban on marijuana is unfair and unnecessary.

The moratorium, enacted last month, prohibits any marijuana-related land uses for six months to give the council and the planning commission time to study a possible permanent ban on marijuana businesses.

Leslie Minch owns commercial property in Woodinville’s industrial district, and she’s also a designated provider for a family member who’s a medical marijuana patient.

She has been approached by license applicants who are interested in renting her property for marijuana manufacturing and processing businesses.

"I can’t even issue them a letter of intent because of the moratorium on businesses in the city of Woodinville," Minch said. "... I just feel like that unfairly restricts my ability to market my space and certainly impacts my livelihood."

Permitting marijuana-related businesses would provide employment, bring in tax revenues and allow legitimate research about medical marijuana, Minch said. She reminded the council that every precinct in the city approved I-502, which legalized recreational marijuana.

"The city had the foresight several years ago to actively encourage the development of the local wine district," she added. "There are over two dozen wineries, several breweries and distilleries on my street alone. This has put Woodinville on the map as a regional tourist destination, and it’s been accomplished in a very responsible manner. Unlike alcohol, marijuana is not physiologically addictive.

"No one has ever died of an overdose or from withdrawal from marijuana. From a planning and zoning perspective, what’s the difference between allowing wine and alcohol-related businesses and  marijuana-related manufacturing, processing or retailing?"

Minch also pointed out the recreational marijuana industry will be highly regulated, with mandatory 24-hour video recording at every business and a state tracking system that will account for every gram of marijuana sold as well as every gram of waste.

The period to apply for a license to grow, process or sell marijuana began Nov. 18 and will end Dec. 18, and no other application periods are planned, said Mikhail Carpenter, a representative for the Liquor Control Board.

Despite Woodinville’s moratorium, one prospective marijuana retailer — Arushanovka, LLC at 20150 144th Ave. NE Ste. B — applied for a license within the city limits, as of Dec. 3.

Carpenter said the LCB will issue licenses to all qualified applicants regardless of a moratorium like Woodinville’s.

However, he said: "We require the licensee to be in compliance with their local authority … which is where we would probably see a lawsuit."

That’s similar to what happened in Kent. In 2012, a group of medical marijuana advocates sued the city for banning collective gardens. A King County Superior Court Judge upheld the ban, but the medical marijuana supporters appealed the ruling.

Two companies applied for marijuana producer and processor licenses with Woodinville addresses, but since these locations are outside the city limits, they wouldn’t be subject to the city’s moratorium. Imwalle Farms Premium Cannabis Cultivators plans to locate at 17903 176th Ave. NE in King County, and Sinsemilla plans to locate at 7907 224th St SE in Snohomish County.

An applicant will be able to change their proposed location if the local authority objects without filing a new application as long as the application is still in the processing stage, according to the rules of I-502.

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