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State sets quota of San Juan County pot shops at three
Three marijuana retail stores will be permitted in San Juan County, one each on Orcas, San Juan and Lopez islands, under regulations proposed Sept. 4 by the Washington State Liquor Control Board to implement Initiative 502, which legalizes marijuana production, processing and retailing.
San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney Randall Gaylord said, “I think it is appropriate to make a limit of one retail store for the three major ferry served islands.”
The regulations are being proposed under provisions of I-502, approved in November by 54 percent of the state’s voters. San Juan County had the largest margin of county approval in the state, 68 percent; Waldron Island apparently had the largest precinct approval in the state, 85 percent.
The proposed regulations are required to be in effect by Dec. 1, but the liquor board has not announced when marijuana stores can begin operations. The regulations can be found at lcb.app.box.com/proposed-rules-9-4-13.
The LCB proposes licensing 334 retail locations in the state, allocated on the basis of population per county and with some allowance for projected consumption. Under the LCB proposal, King County will have 61 stores, Snohomish County 35 stores, Skagit County 10 and Whatcom County 15. Neither growers nor processors are permitted to be licensed as marijuana retailers. If more than one applicant applies for a license in a given jurisdiction, licenses will be awarded on a lottery basis.
Siting of retail locations, like the siting of liquor stores, will be subject to public comment and to a setback of 1,000 feet from a school, playground, public park, public transit center, or library.
“I think when people map out the 1,000 foot setback from schools and parks, the areas where a retail store may go will be quite limited,” Gaylord said of the setback. “With few locations, it will be easier to assure marijuana is not distributed to or used by minors.”
Advertising and display of marijuana in retail locations is limited; on-premises consumption, or even opening of packages, will not be permitted. Retail packages will be limited to one ounce of “useable marijuana”, 16 ounces of solid marijuana-infused products or 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquid. Combination public retail stores and medical marijuana stores will not be permitted. Non-residents will be permitted to purchase and use marijuana in the state, but export from Washington will be illegal.
The state’s Office of Financial Management fiscal impact statement places a price estimate of a $3 per gram producer price, a $6 per gram processor price and a pre-tax $12 per gram average retail purchase price. Estimates of state revenue generation from all sources, including 25 percent excise taxes at the production, processing and retail levels, range up to $2 billion in the first five years of retail sales.
The County Council put the matter on their agenda for discussion with the prosecutor and sheriff at 2 p.m. on Sept. 24. Gaylord would not say whether local governments could ban placement of stores in San Juan County by ordinance, but did say, “I will be closely following what is happening in other communities.”