City hosts forum on marijuana

James Blankenship wants to open a recreational marijuana business, The Stash Box, in Auburn. - Robert Whale, Auburn Reporter
James Blankenship wants to open a recreational marijuana business, The Stash Box, in Auburn.
— image credit: Robert Whale, Auburn Reporter

By November or December of this year, James Blankenship should know whether he can open his recreational marijuana business, The Stash Box, in Auburn.

And, if so, under what conditions.

That's when the Auburn City Council is expected to decide between: saying no outright to all recreational-marijuana businesses within its boundaries; allowing them in under current state regulations with no additional city rules; or green lighting them only after adding city regulations to the rules the state already has in place.

Blankenship preferred the second option.

"I don't think (prohibition) would help, because the law itself was to get the black market out of here," Blankenship said.

Under the third option, Blankenship said, the City could make things so tough on proprietors like him it would just drive them way.

Blankenship is one of the business owners the recent state lottery allocated licenses to open recreational marijuana business in 334 jurisdictions across the state on the heels of voter passage of I-502. Sixty-one of those prospective retail locations are in King County and 31 are in Pierce County. Two are allowed in Auburn.

Blankenship made his comments during a forum on recreational marijuana Tuesday evening at Auburn City Hall. Listening in were City leaders, residents, prospective business owners and community leaders.

Hanging over such deliberations throughout the state is the fact that the federal government still makes the sale and use of recreational marijuana a crime, and any jurisdiction that allows marijuana-related businesses would be breaking federal law.

With the exception of Tacoma, all other jurisdictions have either banned them outright or slapped moratoriums on the issuance of licenses to such businesses. The City of Auburn imposed a one-year moratorium in September of last year to give leaders time to study the issue.

Marijuana is taxed at 25 percent at each level, from producer to processor, from processor to retailer, from retailer to consumer. None of the money at this time would go to the hosting jurisdictions, only to the state.

Auburn Planner David Jones presented a brief overview of the current regulations respecting retail marijuana business. These are briefly summarized below:

• No licenses are allowed in residential areas.

• There is no limitation on the number of processor licenses.

• Everyone involved in the operations, including licensees and financiers, must pass a background check and have been a resident of Washington for at least three months before applying.

• All members of a partnership, co-op or association must be eligible to obtain a license.

• Employees under 21 years old are not allowed.

• Operations may not be located within 1,000 feet of elementary and secondary schools, playgrounds, recreational centers, childcare centers, public parks, public transit centers, libraries and game arcades.

• Licenses are only transferable to surviving spouses or domestic partners, if they were issued in the name of both parties.

• Maximum one can possess: 1 ounce solid, infused 16 ounces, liquid infused 72 ounces.

• Home grown marijuana for recreational use is illegal. It must be bought through the seed-to-sale system, and it must contain visual warnings on the packs.

• It is illegal to open or consume such products in public

• The DUI threshold is 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.

• Waste must be a 50-50 mix with non-marijuana waste compostables or non compostables.

Afterward, Councillman Bill Peloza called I-502, "an unfunded mandate" that would cost the City a lot of money for additional policing and court and administrative costs.

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