It could be three more months before new marijuana farms can start up in Okanogan County.
After a hearing on Monday (Dec. 11) on the county’s six-month moratorium on new cannabis producers, the Okanogan County commissioners asked the planning director to prepare a resolution extending the moratorium until March 5, 2018. The current moratorium is set to expire Dec. 26.
The commissioners want to give the county’s cannabis advisory committee more time to come up with a recommendation about where new marijuana farms can be located. The committee may also propose mitigations for new operations to deal with lights, fencing or odor, according to Planning Director Perry Huston.
Any new rules may also be applied to existing marijuana producers, said Huston. The county currently imposes no regulations on pot farms.
The commissioners imposed the six-month moratorium on new marijuana grows at the end of June. The moratorium also halted the expansion of existing pot farms. The original ban had also included processors and retailers, but the commissioners lifted those restrictions soon after they were imposed.
The moratorium was initially imposed to address concerns of both people in the marijuana industry, who said the county’s current land-use regulations don’t provide enough certainty for people applying for permits, and members of the public, who have said existing regulations don’t provide adequate controls over the where farms are located. The advisory committee includes representatives of both the cannabis industry and the general public.
Since recreational marijuana was legalized by Washington voters in 2014, more than 100 licensed farms have sprung up in Okanogan County.
The commissioners plan to take action on the moratorium extension by next week, said Huston.