Clallam County Commissioners adopted local rules to regulate recreational marijuana nearly three years after Washington voters legalized it.
Since last October and until the commissioners’ vote on Tuesday, Sept. 15, officials within the county’s Department of Community Development have relied on temporary guidelines to incorporate those wanting to process, produce or sell recreational marijuana within Clallam County.
The ordinance passed in a 2-1 vote with Clallam County commissioners Jim McEntire and Bill Peach supportive of the Clallam County Planning Commission’s recommendation and county commissioner Mike Chapman opposed.
The approved ordinance allows for the chapter titled “Recreational Marijuana” outlining the placement of and development standards for state-licensed recreational marijuana producers, processors and retailers will be included into the Clallam County Code.
“It’s good that they supported it,” Kevin LoPiccolo, Department of Community Development planning manager, said. “The planning commission came up with a good approach and an ordinance that recognizes recreational marijuana in the appropriate zones.”
The permanent regulations will become effective Friday, Sept. 25, only two days before the interim ordinance is set to expire.
“I’m not one to shy away from a difficult vote and I don’t think this one is a difficult vote,” McEntire said. “This ordinance is substantially more restrictive than the prior temporary ordinance, but it does allow for the main interest that I had in that large commercial farming activities are allowed under a conditional use permit process.”
Throughout the ordinance drafting process McEntire remained persistent that areas zoned as Agricultural Retention would be included based on his desire to ensure local businesses rooted in agriculture not only “survive, but thrive,” he said.
The new and more restrictive placement and development standards for recreational marijuana producers, processors and retailers eliminates many different zoning categories where the industry was once allowed. Among the changes, but not limited to, state licensed recreational marijuana processors and producers are no longer allowed in areas zoned Rural Village, Rural Village Low, Carlsborg Village Commercial, Carlsborg Village Center, Carlsborg General Commercial, Tourist Commercial and Urban Center.
Early on in the process, following the public hearing held Sept. 8, and the positive responses heard through the public comments, Peach acknowledged his liking for the ordinance.
“I’m in favor of the ordinance,” he said.
The state Legislature passed Senate Bill 5052 in April, merging recreational and medical cannabis, but that wasn’t included in the adopted ordinance because Mary Ellen Winborn, Department of Community Development director, determined the planning commission was “too far into the process” of reviewing the ordinance only aimed at recreational.
However, the likely need to address medical marijuana within the next year could be a “vehicle” for another conversation about the adopted ordinance and opportunity to gain public feedback after the regulations have been in place, Peach said.
Both McEntire and Peach were prepared to support the staff-recommended ordinance, but given Chapman’s absence during the public hearing, the board decided to push the vote to Sept. 15.
Reach Alana Linderoth at firstname.lastname@example.org.