Oak Harbor adopts a marijuana ordinance

A 78-year-old councilman known for having conservative views was the only elected official to object to Oak Harbor’s new regulations on recreational marijuana businesses.

The state and city rules are too burdensome on pot entrepreneurs, Councilman Jim Campbell argued.

“I really believe they are being too harshly regulated,” he said. “The Liquor Control Board ought to regulate them just as they do bars.”

Campbell cast the sole vote against the ordinance, which was adopted during the council meeting Tuesday night.

Councilwoman Tara Hizon was absent.

The council also voted to extend a moratorium on medical marijuana businesses for an additional six months.

Development Services Director Steve Powers said state lawmakers are looking at possibly combining the medical-pot regulations with the recreational-pot rules to simplify matters. He said the Planning Commission advises council members to continue the moratorium and wait and see what happens in Olympia.

The city’s moratorium on recreational pot businesses becomes void when the new ordinance goes into effect in two weeks.

Powers said that the planning department and planning commission have been working for months to develop the draft ordinance to regulate the land use of businesses that grow, process or sell marijuana for recreational purposes.

Powers pointed out that the new ordinance won’t have any foreseeable effect since nobody has applied to the state for a pot license within the city limits.

A total of 30 applicants were made to the state for recreational-pot permits in Island County. Two of the applicants plan to have a pot-producing business on North Whidbey outside of the city.

Liquor Control set a quota for the number of retail pot shops in Island County at four. One is allowed in Oak Harbor and the rest are earmarked for the county at large.

The application deadline has passed. Powers said he didn’t know when or if it would open up again, but he said his department continues to receive inquiries from interested parties.

There’s no restrictions on the number of growing and processing operations allowed beyond an overall, statewide limit of 2 million square feet of marijuana canopy, which amounts to 40 metric tons of pot, which is estimated to be a quarter of the state’s yearly consumption of pot.

Voter-approved Initiative 502, the measure legalizing recreational pot, sets a 1,000-foot separation between pot businesses and sensitive areas such as schools.

The city’s new ordinance creates further protections for the city by establishing zoning regulations for marijuana-related uses.

Under the draft, retail stores are limited to “C-4” commercial and industrial zones. Growing and processing businesses are segregated to industrial and planned industrial park zones.

Powers displayed a map that shows where pot businesses can and cannot be located based on state law, as well as the the city’s draft regulations.

Any marijuana-related businesses in Oak Harbor will likely be located in the north end of town. The map shows that retail pot shops would be allowed on the north end of State Highway 20, Goldie Road and Oak Harbor Road; the growing and processing businesses would be limited to areas on Goldie and Oak Harbor roads.


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