Okanogan County is working on a checklist to help coordinate the licensing process with the state for new cannabis operations.
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) notifies the county of new license applications but, in the past, the county rarely commented on these applications, Planning Director Pete Palmer told the county commissioners last week.
Palmer proposed a checklist to help review all aspects of a new license, including the 911 address and zoning regulations. The county could also tell the WSLCB they have no objections.
The county has been concerned that some licenses contain incomplete or inaccurate information because the state has been issuing licenses for multiple suites or units at a given address, without accounting for the size of the parcel or the aggregate size of the individual grows, Palmer said.
Many cannabis growers have been assigning their own 911 address, which gets listed on the license even when it’s not a valid address, Palmer said. Others apply for licenses for a Suite A and a Suite Z, she said.
Obtaining more detailed information from the state would also allow the county to identify how many companies would operate on a given parcel. It would assist in the environmental review and give neighbors a better sense of what’s planned, Palmer said.
Okanogan County has imposed a moratorium on new cannabis farms to gather up-to-date information on the licensees and to determine whether the farms are in compliance with county zoning regulations. The county also wants to ensure that all growers have an approved, detailed site plan. The moratorium requires all existing growers to meet with the Planning Department.
The moratorium, originally imposed in August, has been extended to allow more time for the meetings, since less than half of the growers had met with the county by the end of January, Palmer said.
The commissioners are holding a public hearing on the extension of the moratorium to Aug. 24. The moratorium also sets a new deadline of April 1 for the meetings with growers.
The remote hearing is Monday (Feb. 28) at 1:30 p.m. The public can comment on the extension at the hearing or in advance by writing to email@example.com. Written comments must be received by noon on Feb. 25.
A copy of the moratorium, Ordinance 2021-9, is at https://www.okanogancounty.org/government/planning. Information for joining the hearing remotely is on that page under “Notices.”
A hearing has been scheduled for March 9 in the lawsuit brought against Okanogan County, the county commissioners and Palmer by Omak grower Ladyhelm Farm. Ladyhelm Farm seeks an injunction in the requirement to meet with the county to show their license and a detailed site plan. The farm argues that the county already has that information and that being asked to furnish it violates their Constitutional rights, including their protection against self-incrimination.
Douglas County Superior Court Judge Brian Huber will hear the case, because both Okanogan County Superior Court judges recused themselves.