Public scrutiny comes with pot-industry territory

Mom and pop pot dealers should prepare for the bright light of public scrutiny as they enter the marijuana mainstream.

There will be no hiding as the state lets cities and counties know who wants to grow, process and open a cannabis corner market in their communities and where exactly they want to do it.

Soon these wannabe legal dope dealers will be the talk of many a town and maybe the target of a few not-so-mellow neighbors, who don’t want the businesses near their homes.

The state Liquor Control Board has received more than 3,700 license applications and has begun informing cities and counties which ones are on their turf. For each application, cities and counties have 20 days to express support, opposition or no position.

“If the local authority objects, we review with an additional layer of scrutiny,” liquor board spokesman Brian Smith said. “Typically, we are looking for whether the local authority made a case that providing a license to the applicant, or at that location, is a threat to public safety. The burden is on the local authority to make its case.”

State law does not tell elected leaders what to do before responding. It does not, for example, require public hearings but it doesn’t dissuade them, either.

That’s where the city of Lynnwood may be blazing a trail for others.

Late last month, the mayor’s office received word from the state of an application for a license to grow and process marijuana on a stamp of commercial land on 208th Street SW abutting homes and the Interurban Trail.

City leaders sprang into action and scheduled a community meeting to discuss and dissect this application.

They mailed notices to residents living in the vicinity with the date, time, place and reason for the meeting. They attached the liquor board’s official letter containing names, phone numbers and birth dates of the applicants. They posted it all online as well.

City leaders no doubt wanted to be certain residents knew exactly who had designs on growing pot on this particular corner.

Not surprisingly, this didn’t sit well with Mark Greenshields of Auricag Inc., who applied for the license for a 30,000-square-foot indoor growing operation. Greenshields said he understood the purpose of the meeting but worried the spread of personal information could create professional and personal problems for he and his partners.

He had another reason for his frustration — by the time the notices went out, he’d already abandoned plans to open in Lynnwood and is looking to operate in unincorporated Snohomish County near Woodinville.

That made the need for a meeting moot in his mind, but Assistant City Administrator Art Ceniza insisted early Monday it would not be canceled. (Tuesday morning it was canceled, with no reason given.)

Departing Councilwoman Kerri Lonergan-Dreke supported getting residents together regardless of the status of the application because legal pot businesses are coming to town and most residents don’t seem to realize it.

The city needs to be proactive, she said. She hopes public sessions are held on every application, even the ones that don’t materialize, she said.

“I think that’s a good strategy to take,” she said. “It’s good for folks to start to understand how the state has responded to the initiative.”

And a reminder for those looking to grow and sell pot in this state: Public attention, unwanted or not, is one of the costs of doing business.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Mukilteo crabber missing; his boat was found at Hat Island

Frank Urbick set out Thursday morning but did not return.

Police looking for leads in case of missing Snohomish man

Henry John Groeneveld, 63, was last seen on Monday, when he said something about going to “the river.”

Separate Everett fires send man to hospital, damage boat

The man was hospitalized for smoke inhalation from the early morning fire.

Police: He made an appointment, then tried to rob the bank

A lawyer is accused of donning a fake beard and telling a teller that a gunman was outside.

Drive-by shooting reported in Marysville neighborhood

Police said there was no evidence to indicate it was targeted at a specific person or property.

Celebrating the origins of Christmas

LDS church holds annual nativity festival featuring more than 600 sets.

Trooper’s car struck when he was arresting man for DUI

She drove away but was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence and hit-and-run.

Inslee’s budget solves school funding with help from carbon

His budget would use reserves to boost education, then replenish them with a carbon tax or fee.

Man, 29, injured by shots fired at Everett thrift store

The gunfire followed an argument in the parking lot of Value Village on Evergreen Way.

Most Read