Cascade Bible Church, across the street, asserts status as a recreation center
Okanogan County Superior Court Judge Henry Rawson set a hearing for 2 p.m. on Monday (Aug. 5) for all sides — the church, House of Cannabis, and LCB — to argue their cases.
A judge has temporarily blocked the marijuana retailer Carlton House of Cannabis from moving to Twisp.
Cascade Bible Church was granted the temporary restraining order on Friday (July 26). The church sought the court order after the state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) on July 22 approved the store’s move to 1017 E. Methow Valley Highway.
House of Cannabis remains open at 2256 Highway 153, Suite B, in Carlton. Co-owner Michael Endicott was days away from relocating the store to the front of the Yard Food building, which is across Burton Street from the church’s grounds. The two property boundaries are about 40 feet apart.
When the store’s relocation license was still under LCB review in May, church officials had argued that the church ran a private school and a recreation center on its property. State law prohibits marijuana stores within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, park, recreation center, transit center, arcade, child care facility or library.
Master’s Christian School, located on church property, did not meet the state’s minimum standards for a private school. However, in seeking the restraining order, the church restated its argument that it runs a recreation center.
“A recreational center for the area’s youth has been in continuous operation since the late 1970s, when the Cascade Bible Church (CBC) opened up its gymnasium to the community,” the church’s court filings state.
The gymnasium at the church is used regularly by church youth groups, a youth basketball team, and by volleyball and pickleball enthusiasts, according to the court documents. As many as 100 youths participate in these activities.
“If [the marijuana store] moves, all of the children who use CBC’s facilities for school by day and for all of the supervised activities at night will be directly exposed,” the documents say.
According to the state’s marijuana laws, a recreation center is defined as “a supervised center that provides a broad range of activities and events intended primarily for use by persons under 21 years of age, owned and/or managed by a charitable nonprofit organization” or government.
An LCB official justified the agency’s decision in an email interview on Monday (July 29).
“The primary purpose of the location is not to act as a recreation center with supervised activities and events for persons under 21,” LCB Communications Consultant Stephanie Davidsmeyer wrote. “It appears that the primary purpose is the church and private school, which is not recognized” by the state.
A call to Endicott seeking comment was not returned. Erin McCool, a Wenatchee attorney representing House of Cannabis, declined comment when reached by phone on Monday (July 29).
While issuing the restraining order, Okanogan County Superior Court Judge Henry Rawson set a hearing for 2 p.m. on Monday (Aug. 5) for all sides — the church, House of Cannabis, and LCB — to argue their cases. The judge will either drop the restraining order or decide to issue a preliminary injunction, further barring the store from relocating to Twisp until he can issue a final ruling.
The church is asking the judge to require the LCB to reconsider its decision approving the relocation license.