Issaquah could see retail marijuana by October

May 6, 2014

By Peter Clark

Recreational marijuana retail lottery results are in — and Weedhouse got the No. 1 spot.

After an independent process that took place April 21-25, the Washington State Liquor Control Board released the order in which retail applications will be processed May 2. Though Issaquah can only have one retail location, based on population, 21 prospective business owners applied for a license. The state winnowed that list down to 10.

At the top, aiming to locate at 225 N.E. Juniper St., is a possible business named Weedhouse.

“Being identified as the apparent successful applicant is not a guarantee that the selected applicant will receive a license,” a Liquor Control Board press release accompanying the announcement read. “There are multiple requirements for licensure, such as the applicant must pass a criminal history and financial investigation, as well as have a location that is not within 1,000 feet of a school, park or other area specified by Initiative 502 as places where children congregate.”

Although Weedhouse received the top spot in the lottery, should it fail to meet the state’s requirements, the application will go to the next one on the list, Doremouse Organics.

“The Liquor Control Board is going to do a pretty big background check on them.” City Associate Planner Jason Rogers said about the applicants. “If they don’t meet the requirements, they will get disqualified.”

Weedhouse also applied to establish retail stores in Enumclaw and Federal Way.

Rogers said retail applicants had to present the state with a letter of intent from property owners to prove they would welcome a licensed business. Nine out of the 10 applicants in the lottery list cite a location address in the 200 block of Northeast Juniper Street. The other lists 1410 N.W. Gilman Blvd., Suite A, as its possible address.

Although the Issaquah City Council has not approved official zoning, Rogers was able to confirm that the listed addresses in the lottery meet the preliminary expectations for what final zoning might entail.

“I can tell you most of these addresses probably work,” he said.

Issaquah has a few more speed bumps in the way, which may also slow down the establishment of a retail marijuana location.

The City Council installed a moratorium on recreational marijuana business practices last year in order to allow the state time to finalize the rules under which the new industry would begin. It also wanted time to cohesively investigate any further regulations it wanted to put on the sale of recreational marijuana within city limits.

That moratorium is set to expire in July and the council has spent the last few months evaluating the administration’s recommendation and exploring options.

Even if the moratorium were lifted in July, under passed City Council regulations, the business would have to then go through Issaquah’s licensing process.

“They would have to apply for permits, whatever building permits they may need,” Rogers said.

On the state level, processing the applications for recreational marijuana producers, processors and retailers in the order of the lottery has already begun.

“The agency has begun processing the retail applications,” the press release read. “As of April 30, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has issued 25 producer and processor licenses. The agency expects to begin issuing retail licenses no later than the first week of July.”

It will take a little longer before Issaquah can expect to see a recreational marijuana retail business in city limits. Rogers said that even if the city follows the moratorium timeline, Weedhouse, or whichever business passes the state’s process, would not set up shop until October at the earliest.

“The permitting process takes anywhere from three to six months, and it will probably be on the longer end,” Rogers said. “We haven’t talked about that because that would be putting the cart before the horse. It could take a while.”

The City Council will next discuss the administration’s recommendations for recreational marijuana regulations at the May 13 Land & Shore Committee meeting beginning at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers, 135 E. Sunset Way. It will allow another opportunity for the public to offer input.


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