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December 15, 2014

Please note: The interim ordinance has been replaced with a new one adopted December 22 and for more info see the i-502 page.

Skagit County adopts moratorium on new marijuana facilities

MOUNT VERNON — The Board of County Commissioners today adopted an interim ordinance, effective immediately, that creates a moratorium on new recreational marijuana production or processing facilities in the following zones, most of which are characterized by residential development: Rural Intermediate, Rural Reserve, Rural Business, Rural Center, Rural Resource-NRL, Rural Village Commercial, Bayview Ridge Residential, and Hamilton Residential.

The ordinance also prohibits medical marijuana dispensaries or collective gardens in any zone. The Division 1 Court of Appeals found such facilities to not be legalized in its decision earlier this year in Cannabis Action Coalition v. City of Kent. The State Legislature is expected to harmonize the recreational and medical marijuana licensing systems in the next legislative session.
The interim ordinance, which is effective for one year and may be renewed, also imposes a 250-foot setback on any marijuana production or processing facility from adjoining properties. Facilities legally established prior to the date of the ordinance are not affected by the new rules.

“The Board feels it is important to respond to the concerns of rural homeowners who felt their neighborhoods would be negatively impacted by these facilities,” said Board of Commissioners Chair Ron Wesen. “Our action today calls a timeout until we can work through the public process to write permanent regulations.”

A moratorium is a commonly used  technique to preserve the status quo while a community amends its development regulations. The Board of County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the moratorium on Tuesday, January 6, at 8:30 a.m. in the Commissioners Hearing Room, 1800 Continental Place, Mount Vernon.

For more information, contact Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ryan Walters at ryanw@co.skagit.wa.us or 360-419-3444.

Related: Guidance for I-502 Marijuana Permitting