By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
EVERETT — Snohomish County could be the home to as many as 35 licensed retail marijuana stores — more than all but one county in Washington — under rules proposed by the state’s Liquor Control Board.
In Snohomish County, 16 stores could open outside area cities. The rest are allocated to specific incorporated areas, including five in Everett, three in Marysville and two in Lynnwood.
Statewide, up to 334 retail marijuana stores could open, according to rules proposed Wednesday by the Liquor Control Board. The most, up to 61, would be in King County, with about a third of those located inside the city of Seattle.
Four could open in Island County.
The Liquor Control Board is charged with carrying out a voter-approved initiative to legalize the possession and use of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults 21 and older.
The board’s duties include licensing growers, distributors and retailers of marijuana as well as other rules regulating its sale.
On Wednesday, the board proposed a number of rules on recreational marijuana sales, including a production cap of 40 metric tons of marijuana per year.
“These rules fulfill the public expectation of creating a tightly regulated and controlled system while providing reasonable access to participation in the market, said board chair Sharon Foster. “We believe these rules meet the eight federal government enforcement priorities within (last) Thursday’s guidance memo from the Department of Justice.”
The number of retail stores will be allocated by population, with a limit on how many can be situated in each of the state’s larger cities and in each county.
Clay White, a planning and development director for Snohomish County said that the county is now working on and will take public comment about proposed permanent regulations on retail marijuana stores.
The regulations also will deal with medical marijuana sales and collective gardens, he said.
Everett is expected to have its regulations in place by Nov. 18, said Colin Olivers, an assistant city attorney.
Washington and Colorado both legalized the recreational use of marijuana last fall.
In July, the Liquor Control Board filed proposed rules, which it revised after five public hearings. There is a 30-day public comment period before the rules are finally adopted.
Board members said retail stores could open as early as June 2014.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced last week that it would not attempt to legally block Washington or Colorado over plans to tax and regulate pot sales for adults as long as the states adhere to the federal priorities that include preventing drugged driving and keeping marijuana away from kids and off the black market.
The Justice Department said strong state regulatory systems could actually enhance federal law enforcement goals by keeping marijuana profits from cartels.
State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, on Wednesday praised the board’s proposed rules.
“While further public input is essential in potentially refining the rules, these are well-thought-out solutions that are reasonable and appropriate,” she said. “The board was smart to prioritize public safety and consumer safety while providing reasonable access and also meeting the eight federal enforcement priorities set by the Department of Justice.”
“I’m pleased that the proposed caps on grow size would allow for greater participation for small-sized producers rather than for fewer, large-sized producers,” she said.
The revised rules set the maximum amount of space for marijuana production at 2 million square feet.
They also limit any entity to three producer or processor licenses and three retail licenses.
“We want to avoid a market dominated by large players, which could drive up prices, and encourage aggressive marketing,” board member Chris Marr said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Pot stores in Snohomish County
Liquor Control Board