South Whidbey rec pot store’s opening delayed

Whidbey Island Cannibis Co. owner Maureen Cook stands behind empty display shelves. Not only wasn’t there product to sell, she has a year to obtain county approval to open. - Photo by Ben Watanabe/Whidbey News Group
Whidbey Island Cannibis Co. owner Maureen Cook stands behind empty display shelves. Not only wasn’t there product to sell, she has a year to obtain county approval to open.
— image credit: Photo by Ben Watanabe/Whidbey News Group

The recreational marijuana business in Island County has gotten off to a rocky start.

A South Whidbey entrepreneur became the first person with a license to sell recreational marijuana in Washington state this week, but she didn’t have approval from Island County government to open.

Maureen Cooke, owner of Mo’s Pub and Eatery in Langley, is the first name on the state’s list of approved sellers. She opened the shop in Bayview this week, but didn’t have any product to sell.

It turns out, however, that Cooke did not go through the proper process with Island County government to open the shop.

“Some people got a little ahead of themselves,” said Island County Planning Director Dave Wechner.

He said the code enforcement officer put a “stop work order” on the business on July 2 because she didn’t obtain the necessary type 2 site plan approval or building permit for work done inside the roughly 875-square-foot shop on Kramer Road.

He said the process would likely take from 60 to 90 days to complete.

In the interim, Cooke wrote to the Island County commissioners asking for them to reconsider their order. She was irate with the county and the cost of the permits.

“They’re just going to extort $2,500 out of me.”

“If they’re going to prevent me from opening and want me to pay $2,500, I’m going to pay the (expletive) thing. I’m pissed,” she said.

Wechner said her store likely meets all the requirements but must go through the two-permit processes.

“I would anticipate that she can receive her permit for it, certainly,” he said. “But she doesn’t have one and hasn’t applied.”

In fact, Wechner said no recreational pot businesses in the county have obtained the necessary approvals, though several are in the process.

Bud Hut, a retail store planned for Camano Island, has submitted paperwork.

Owners of a proposed production and processing operation near Oak Harbor on Goldie Road has some taken some of the necessary steps.

Wechner said the business that’s probably furthest along in the process is a pot production operation on Edgefield Lane near Coupeville.

Washington voters approved Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana consumption and possession up to one ounce, in November 2012. It has taken the Washington State Liquor Control Board nearly 18 months to set out the rules and process applications for the production, distribution and sale — three distinct parts of the business.

South Whidbey Record reporter Ben Watanabe contributed to this story.

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