By Polly Keary, Editor
The Sky Valley may soon have a thriving marijuana industry.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board has released the list of license applications it has received to either grow, process or retail marijuana, and there are 11 applicants between Gold Bar and Maltby.
Who wants to open
Only one of the two applicants to retail marijuana will get a license, as Monroe is the only Sky Valley town to be allotted a license, and only one business may have it.
Two would-be retailers are seeking the license; one would be called Dank’s Wonder Emporium (also seeking a license in Everett) and would be located on Lenton Place in the shopping center shared by Payless Shoes. The other would be called Happy Days, and would be located on East Main Street near Travelers Park at the intersection with U.S. Highway 2. If both applicants qualify, the license will be awarded by lottery.
There are nine businesses seeking to grow marijuana; seven of which also wish to process it. There is no limit to the number of growers or processors in an area, so those applicants who qualify and who can get a business permit where they hope to locate could all theoretically open in 2014.
Among those businesses are two grow-only operations, one called Thistle Dew seeking a spot just outside Sultan, and another called Plantwerks hoping to locate in the Tualco Valley.
Among the growers who also hope to process marijuana in the area are two up-valley: Urban Paragon near Startup and Medicinal Garden on 437th Drive in Gold Bar. In the Tualco Valley, Gaia Industries would like to operate on Frohning Road, and Strange Days could open near High Rock Road. Another operation called The Market Garden would like to open at 17829 Tester Rd. And Beneficial Botanicals could operate between Monroe and Snohomish on 227th Street S.E. Another outfit called Seaweed is seeking a license to open near Maltby on 196th Street.
To download a complete list of applicants and the addresses at which they hope to operate, see http://liq.wa.gov/records/frequently-requested-lists.
What the rules are
In order to qualify for a license, a licensee must be at least 21, have no felonies on record and no more than two misdemeanor convictions. It cost each applicant $250 to apply; those who succeed will pay $1,000 a year to keep the license.
No marijuana business can be within 1,000 feet of a school or playground, recreation center, daycare, park, public transfer center, library or arcade.
Stores have to be fairly discreet, in that they can only have one sign (albeit a rather large one) and products can’t be visible from the outside.
Inside, they can sell marijuana, marijuana-infused products like smokeless cigarettes and brownies, and paraphernalia. Marijuana is expected to retail for $12 to $15 per gram, perhaps more for higher quality. There will be a possession limit of an ounce, so presumably one may not buy more than that at one time.
Also, there are stringent inventory controls, and the state is implementing a tracking system called BioTrackTHC intended to account for marijuana from every seed to every sale.
Those who wish to grow and/or process marijuana are required to keep records on all invoices, purchases, transactions, pesticides, fertilizers, growing and drying procedures, weight of product, how waste is destroyed, inventory, what samples are given to retailers, all samples used for testing, transportation, and any record of theft of product, seeds, clones, trim, plants or extract.
Each grower and processor will have to present a plan for security, traceability, employee training, transportation, solid waste disposal, chemical use, testing protocols and packaging.
Growers are expected to get about $3 per gram, and processors $6 per gram. That puts legal pot at about $1,800 a pound for growers, a little less than the current price of illegal pot, which is about $2,000 per pound. Retailers buying at $6 per gram stand to profit $3,718 per pound if they sell it for double what they pay.
Marijuana will be taxed at 25 percent. The money will go to a fund that will be used for community health, public education and other things.
County and city rules
A spokesperson for the Liquor Control Board cautioned that a license is not the same thing as a permit. Just because a person has gotten a license to sell or grow does not mean that that person will automatically get a business permit. Licenses come from the state, permits come from the city or county in which the business hopes to open.
Monroe Tuesday implemented a temporary moratorium on any marijuana-related businesses within the city limits. There will be more discussion in January about a more permanent policy.
However, a majority of Monroe residents voted in favor 2012’s Initiative 502 by a margin of 3,097 to 2,650, and “yes” voters had majorities in nine of Monroe’s 12 individual precincts.
Snohomish County Council, reasoning that marijuana businesses could help sustain rural economies, support the agriculture industry and the economy overall, in November passed an ordinance allowing marijuana growers and processors to operate in certain zoning, including Agriculture 10, Rural Industrial and Rural 5 zones. Also acceptable are industrial park, business park, light industrial and heavy industrial zones. It is not appropriate for home-based businesses, they decided.
To see the ordinance, visit http://www.mrsc.org/ords/s61o13-086.pdf.
Marijuana could start being available for retail in early 2014, presuming growers can start growing in December.