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Village by the THC?

Recreational marijuana may someday be for sale at a Langley retail location on Third Street. The city council is set to discuss zoning changes next week that could pave the way for a future store. - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Recreational marijuana may someday be for sale at a Langley retail location on Third Street. The city council is set to discuss zoning changes next week that could pave the way for a future store.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Following the recent adoption of state regulations for recreational marijuana, Langley city officials are now looking at their own pot-shop rules.

The Langley City Council will discuss the issue at its regularly scheduled meeting Monday, Oct. 21, starting at 5:30 p.m. It will be the first time the city has addressed recreational marijuana sales and almost two years after rejecting a proposal to alter city code to allow medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits.

“We believe that our community is uniquely open-minded about this kind of business,” said Mayor Fred McCarthy.

He was recently contacted by Pete O’Neil about possibly opening a store to sell recreational marijuana, which was legalized by a voters’ initiative in 2012. The mayor said the city’s denizens are likely to support the idea, so long as pot can stay out of children’s hands.

“Our sense is that the residents of Langley will be open to this as long as there are provisions made to ensure that underage people are not unduly exposed to the presence of this business,” he said.

Langley is poised to strike on a potential business that other municipalities on Whidbey Island have shunned. Oak Harbor recently passed a six-month moratorium on recreational and medical marijuana businesses. Island County was allotted four retail locations: one in Oak Harbor and three at-large outlets.

“It would be nice to be on the leading edge of the island to allow it,” said Councilman Bruce Allen.

“I don’t have a problem with it. There are going to be four on the island, and we might as well be one of them.”

Lucas Jushinski, who owns Island Alternative Medicine, a medical marijuana dispensary in Freeland, said he has no interest in operating a store in Langley, though he is considering one in Freeland at a different location.

One of the previous issues with allowing a medical marijuana dispensary in Langley, as Jushinski proposed in 2012, were the restrictions on such a business’s location.

A 1,000-foot buffer around any parks or schools, of which downtown Langley has many, was a major sticking point. The location of Langley Middle School puts the downtown core in close proximity, plus there are several parks in Langley — Boy and Dog, Hladky, Second Street — that would preclude a store from opening its doors.

But McCarthy, Councilman Doug Allderdice and Allen think they may have a suitable location at the edge of city limits. A building on Third Street, near the intersection of Coles Road and Brooks Hill Road/Third Street, may work — with a zoning change.

The building, which currently houses chiropractic offices and massage therapists, is zoned for commercial, not retail.

“It’s a fairly minor zoning change,” McCarthy said.

Allderdice and Allen planned on bringing up the issue with the council Monday and gauging their colleagues’ interests in allowing the business. From there, they would begin discussing with that building’s current tenants and the lease holder about allowing someone to operate a recreational marijuana store there.

“Do we want that here or not? We have to decide that as a council,” Allen said. “Personally, I have no objection to it.”

Washington’s Liquor Control Board, the agency in charge of governing legal marijuana sales, set a maximum of 334 locations across the state in September. Also, a total of 40 metric tons of marijuana can be produced annually under the rules. A retailer may only carry four months of its average inventory in the licensed location. Marijuana sales licenses cost $250 for the application and $1,000 for an annual renewal.

 

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