Wednesday, December 4, 2013/lk
OKANOGAN Fifteen applications have been filed for hopeful marijuana-producing businesses in Okanogan County since the state opened the filing period Nov. 18.
Okanogan County has the fifth-highest concentration in terms of applications per resident, behind Kittitas, Lincoln, Pend Oreille and San Juan counties.
There has been one applicant in Ferry County so far, in Malo, and five in Douglas County, although the applicants are all based in East Wenatchee.
Our zoning ordinance requires the use be legal under city, state and federal law...
- Omak City Administrator Ralph Malone
None of the applicants filing before press time Monday sought to open local stores. The application window closes Dec. 18, and the state plans to release an updated list of applicants every Tuesday.
Cities are taking different approaches to handling applications.
Tonasket doesn’t require business licenses, and that includes planned marijuana and liquor retailers, Utility Clerk Vernie McDaniel said.
Omak hasn’t received any business license applications, City Administrator Ralph Malone said Monday.
“They would be required to get a business license, and they would also be required to get a zoning permit,” he said. “Our zoning ordinance requires the use be legal under city, state and federal law, so that kind of creates an obstacle that nobody’s tried to come over yet.”
marijuana, which was legalized by state voters in 2012.
There are three tier 2 applicants in Okanogan County, which allows for plant canopy between 2,000 and 10,000 square feet: Paradise Valley Organics, 696 Texas Creek Road, Carlton; The Green Company, 38 Apple Jack Road, Tonasket; and The Green Surfer, 8 Hazels Hill Road, Tonasket.
The rest of the applications are for tier 3 producing licenses, which would allow the businesses to have plant canopies between 10,000 and 30,000 square feet.
Those applicants include Antoine Creek Farms, which filed three applications for its 710 Antoine Creek Road location between Chelan and Pateros; Cannasol Farms Inc., 99 Greenacres Road, Riverside; K and M Growers, 116 B S. Frontage State Road, Tonasket; Life Gardens 3, tax parcel 33122360040 in Methow; Marisource, 48 Stage Coach Loop Road, Oroville; Okanogan Valley Nursery, 125 Greenacres Road, Omak; and Ravens Keep and Sweetgrass LLC, both located at 176 O’Neil Road in Oroville.
Omak and Oroville both amended their zoning ordinances to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries and collective gardens from being established, but Smith said there’s no provision under state law that allows cities to “opt out” of the new state law.
The state has allocated five retailers for the county – one would be based in Omak – and there’s no limit on the number of licenses that could be given to qualifying producers and processors.
In unincorporated Okanogan County, the commissioners are scheduled to consider a recommendation at a 6 p.m. hearing on Monday that will determine whether business license-holders will have to acquire a conditional use permit (CUP) to operate.
Following a public hearing Nov. 25, during which about 20 residents on both sides of the issue gave testimony, the county planning commission recommended allowing “all marijuana operations (producer, processor, retailer) outright, without a CUP,” Senior Planner Ben Rough said.
The commission believed state law should be sufficient to “protect public health, morals and safety,” according to a memo from Planner Perry Huston.
Commissioners will accept written and verbal testimony at the hearing, which will be at 123 N. Fifth Ave.
In a previous interview with The Chronicle, Okanogan Cannabis Association President and wildlife biologist Jeremy Moberg said his clients hope to have their licenses in hand by February to get ready for the next growing season.
Moberg estimated crops could generate upwards of $240 million and could account for 10-20 percent of the state’s crop.
The majority of state residents – 55.7 percent of voters – supported I-502.
Okanogan County voters approved it at 51.4 percent, and 51.05 percent of Ferry County voters were in favor. Douglas County voted against the measure by a slim margin of 51 percent.
King County had the most applicants — 63 — but also the most residents. The four highest concentration counties were Kittitas with 11 applicants, Lincoln with five applicants, Pend Oreille with five applicants and San Juan with six applicants.
Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Garfield and Walla Walla counties had no applicants.
Within Okanogan and Ferry counties, there are three applications for tier 1 producers, which allows for grows of 2,000 square feet or less: A and J Electric, 33 Old Carlton Road in Carlton; Green Veteran, 3 Blue Moon Road in Riverside, and Okanogan Highlands Cannabis, 415 N. Empire Creek Road Suite A in Malo.
A and J Electric was the only business with a listed phone number, but a Chronicle request for comment was not returned.
State Liquor Control Board Communications Director Brian Smith said it’s difficult to tell if some businesses listed are new, or if they are medical marijuana dispensaries that are transitioning to be producers and retailers for recreational