Council denies permit to pot applicants

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WALLA WALLA — The City Council denied its first request to open a commercial marijuana business in city limits.

The 7-0 vote snuffed out a conditional use permit for a marijuana production and processing site at 1491 Rose St.

Council’s denial only affects the proposed business location, and the applicants — Green Acre Labs LLC, Justin Lee, Kelli Powers and Doris Jacky — can still be awarded a business license by the state.

City Attorney Tim Donaldson explained that while the growing or production of marijuana was allowed at the commercial-highway zoned location, city ordinances allow processing in light-industrial zones.

“Had this just been a production application, our recommendation to you would be to allow it,” Donaldson said, noting that the applicants met all buffer zone and background check requirements.

“It is just the increased scope of the license we are objecting too.”

A total of four people testified, all of them against granting the conditional use permit.

“I would really like to not see this processing going on particularly in that area,” local resident Sharon Schiller said.

“That is my home. I think it is a poor choice to actually carry that through and have this done in our town.”

Washington law has the three types of marijuana licenses: producer, processor and retailer.

Producers will grow marijuana for wholesale to processors.

Processors will dry, package and label the pot or pot-infused product for wholesale to retailers.

Retailers will sell the final products at their shops.

The line between production and processing, however, raised a question about the law when Council member Barbara Clark asked Donaldson whether harvesting and drying the plant is part of processing or production.

“We didn’t make up the terminology; it was the liquor control board,” he responded.

“So it becomes something that as they go along they will define it more thoroughly, but I don’t think taking the plant before they ship it someplace, that that is processing. I don’t want us to go on the record for having defined it like that because I don’t know what the liquor control board is going to say.”

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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