Businesses must be licensed and meet county and state requirements
The County Council this afternoon repealed its de facto ban on marijuana production and sales in unincorporated areas. The bill changes the conditional use permit process by eliminating a requirement that sellers prove the sale of marijuana is not a Schedule 1 drug under the Federal Controlled Substance Act. In addition, marijuana retailers are no longer required to operate in stand-alone buildings.
The changes were sponsored by Council Members Young, Ladenburg and Talbert.
“These amendments fulfill a commitment I made during the campaign,” stated Council Member Young. “I’ve been working hard to give citizens what they voted for. At the same time, I want to make sure strong regulations are in place and enforced,” Young continued. “In February, the second largest marijuana grow operation in Pierce County history was busted next door to a day care center in my community. The regulation of a legal market will make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Last summer, the county sent letters to marijuana dispensaries in Pierce County telling them they had until July 1, 2016 to get a state license or cease operation. However, before today’s amendments were approved by the council, sellers could not satisfy the part of the ordinance concerning the federal ban even when they were in possession of a state license. The bill removes that requirement.
Dispensaries must also apply for a county conditional use permit by the July 1 deadline.
“If a marijuana business is licensed and follows the rules, it should be able to operate in Pierce County,” said Young. “I’d rather see taxes from legal sales go to making this a better community, than illegal sales lining the pockets of a street dealer.”
The revised ordinance becomes law 10 days after being signed by the county executive.