Putting Pot in Its Place

At 7:00 pm on the evening of August 24th well over 80 concerned citizens attended a meeting at the Wabash Church meeting room in Auburn, rural King County.  They came to meet and discuss their grievances with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) http://www.liq.wa.gov/mjlicense/marijuana-licensing   members, who were kind enough to drive out of their urban environs and discuss their role in siting and licensing cannabis grow operations.

Problems associated with the rush to implement grow operations have surfaced from the start of the legalization of the herb, which was to be a panacea of shifting from black market marijuana to legitimized state regulated cannabis markets.  The WSLCB claims to have its hands tied by state law and the fact that each county in the state is authorized to create their own regulations around siting and zoning for retail and production operations.  Rural Citizens are asking for a remedy to cure all ills created by production of marijuana and siting of grow operations, as the envisioned panacea has not achieved the desired corrective result.

The list of objections from rural property owners are the core questions regarding property values, and neighborhood safety.  The industrial grow operations being sited in rural areas have proven to be a situation which is annoying, unpleasant, obnoxious, and a potential harm to neighboring properties.  Property owners are concerned that such an industrial operation with its noise, smells, and security needs has devalued their own properties, making the potential market for their property limited to those who would be willing to endure such an environment.  Neighbors to grows are concerned with air quality and the effects of concentrated and repeated exposure to components of cannabis and to chemicals that may be used in processing products of cannabis.  Pesticides, processing agents and cleaning agents are some of their concerns, along with how and where these chemicals are disposed of, and if the water quality and environment they share with these operations are impacted.  Have there been tests and studies related to their questions on environmental impacts to people, farm stock and wildlife?

Rural properties are being purchased in agricultural zoned areas for the purpose of large scale growing and processing operations.  Citizens are concerned that these operations are not agricultural, but rather industrial and need to be sited where infrastructure exists to handle industrial by-products of processing, not where ground water will be impacted by the over whelming of rural capacities.

Citizens question why growing and processing cannot be sited nears schools or playgrounds, but are allowed where the children who attend and use such facilities actually live, their homes.  They are concerned about the new conditions their children are subjected to, including the strong smells from these operations, and what exactly are the components causing the odors. This seems to be a case where current law is not well thought out, and is descriptive of why the rush to implement needs additional thought and regulation.  Some people in attendance spoke of their regret of having voted for legalization of marijuana because the implementation has resulted in so many unaddressed problems and the lack of representation in problem solving from their county government.  They are, however, highly motivated to create solutions with or without the help of county government.  Many of those in attendance also spoke of retaliation and threats having been made toward them, without specific details, it should be mentioned while concerned, they are not of a mind to let threats stop them in exercising their first amendment or property rights.

This has become a case where the tyranny of the majority has resulted in a careless goal seeking of the ideal of legalization.  The goal has been accomplished but the ideal has not been met, and a responsibility to look at the problems of cannabis production has been neglected.  State legislators Pam Roach and Chad Magendanz are actively pursuing problem solving, and the State Government Operations Committee, chaired by Senator Pam Roach is considering meeting to address the problems associated with large scale industrial grow operations this November.  Specific points that will be addressed are to provide that the state does not preempt local governments from enacting more restrictive laws regarding marijuana businesses, addressing zoning requirements, adding new requirements for licensing and renewal of licenses at the Liquor and Cannabis Board, including a requirement that marijuana businesses comply with local laws, providing for specific notice to residents located near proposed businesses, and providing for greater opportunity for consideration of public testimony regarding license applications.

Citizens’ Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR) has been receiving many comments and descriptions of the impact rural property owners have faced with their properties when a grow operation moves in next door.  This is a state-wide problem shared by many counties; Chelan, King, Skagit, Spokane, Yakima to name a few.  CAPR is focusing on creating a focal base where citizens around the state can work together on the issues around grow operations. There are several newspaper reports about the problems people are being forced to face. 

King County lifts moratorium on legal pot businesses


Wenatchee World Editorial Board | Consensus found


Odor reduction, stricter zoning coming to Chelan County marijuana farms


Yakima takes prudent step on marijuana buffer


Odor complaints may lead to moratorium on new marijuana growing operations in Moxee


Would an ‘e-nose’ know? Pot rule makers study smell measurement


UW marijuana study shows no need to expand growing


No Shortage Of Marijuana In Washington Say Researchers


Neighbors incensed over stinky pot farms



August 26, 2016