Pierce County’s lone licensed pot grower stuck in legal limbo

c.r.roberts@thenewstribune.comMarch 8, 2014 

Pierce County has its first official legally sanctioned marijuana grower.

Maybe.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board this week announced that three licenses had been issued to businesses that plan to cultivate marijuana as part of Initiative 502, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

This week, the first producer, from Spokane, was introduced. Two more businesses were subsequently named, one in Bremerton and another, Downtown Cannabis Co., in Pacific.

The problem facing Downtown Cannabis owner James Dusek comes from the Pacific City Council, which last month unanimously passed a six-month interim zoning ordinance “prohibiting the siting, establishment and operation” of any business relating to the production, processing, cultivation, storage or sale of marijuana products.

Dusek was one of four people who testified at the February council meeting. The official minutes of the meeting record, “For him six months equals $35,000 out of pocket … said 502 businesses are the most highly regulated businesses in the city and it’s very important to run a tight ship.”

Pacific officials were unavailable Friday afternoon. In a news report from the time of the February meeting, Pacific City Councilman Joshua Putnam said federal law influenced his vote for the interim moratorium.

“I happen to disagree with this federal law, but it is the law,” Putnam said, according to an article in the Auburn Reporter. “As it stands now, I don’t see how we can exempt one type of business from federal law.”

Any commerce in marijuana is illegal under federal statute.

Contacted Friday afternoon at his Pacific operation, Dusek chose not to comment on his plans.

The Liquor Control Board likely will announce the approval of further licenses next week. The board publishes new approvals every Tuesday on its website, liq.wa.gov.

Board spokesman Mikhail Carpenter on Friday said that recreational marijuana sales are expected to begin no later than June.

C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535 c.r.roberts@thenewstribune.com

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