Langley eyes marijuana store

Langley may soon have it all — groceries, spas, banks and recreational marijuana.

The city council met in regular session Monday to hash out their feelings on recreational marijuana sales in town. The discussion was sparked following an email to Langley Mayor Fred McCarthy from an interested person about the city’s rules and attitude toward a cannabis store.

In general, the city council appears willing to welcome a recreational marijuana business to Langley.

“All of us are products of the ’60s,” said Councilwoman Rene Neff. “We’re open to it, and we’re open to a new business,” she later added. “Frankly, it would bring in some welcome tax money to the city,  which obviously isn’t the sole reason to do it.”

City councilmen Bruce Allen and Doug Allderdice and Planning Director Jeff Arango identified at least one location near the edge of the city on Third Street. It came with a catch, however, of requiring a zoning change from commercial to retail. That process would require Planning Advisory Board meetings, public hearings and public readings by the city council.

One of the major limitations of bringing a store that sells marijuana to Langley is a state-imposed location restriction. Marijuana, which was made legal with the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012, may not be sold for recreational purposes within 1,000 feet of a school or park — a bind in Langley.

“Given the 1,000-foot limitation, there are very few places where a business like this could take place,” said Councilman Jim Sundberg.

Recreational sales are slated to begin in 2014 after a Dec. 1 deadline to establish procedures and criteria to implement the initiative. People at least 21 years old are legally allowed to have one ounce of usable marijuana, 16 ounces of solid marijuana-infused product or 72 ounces of liquid-form marijuana product, such as a tincture. Washington’s Office of Financial Management placed a price estimate of $12 per gram.

Island County was allotted four retail stores for recreational marijuana by the Washington State Liquor Control Board. One is slated for Oak Harbor specifically, and the other three are at-large locations.

Langley’s leaders hope to capitalize on the new law while the rest of the county considers the issue. Oak Harbor’s city council and Island County placed a moratorium on recreational sales.

“Basically we wanted, in effect, to get ahead of the question, considering whether there’s any place in the city where such a business could take place,” Sundberg said.

Neff added: “This community, of all the communities on Whidbey Island, would be supportive of this kind of business.”


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