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Snohomish marijuana shop looking at its options

SNOHOMISH — The state-licensed owners of a retail marijuana shop at Second Street and Avenue D would like to open the store, even as there’s a citywide marijuana ban the city will uphold.
The store’s owners say they have state credentials to open.
However, while they have a state license, if they opened
as it stands they would run afoul of city zoning and business licensing rules.
The shop, which will be known as The Kushery Snohomish, received its state license on Dec. 8. It wants to operate inside the same building that houses the 76 gas station at the corner.
Joshua Shade, a co-owner of The Kushery, said right now they’re in a “wait and see” mode. The plan could hinge on the city’s advisory vote this November on whether to lift the Snohomish marijuana ban and also if the future city mayor might lift the ban.
“Right now, I don’t know when or if we’re going to open,” Shade said. “It’s not just going to cost me money, but the city, too. What I can do is educate people, informing them, and get them to vote in November.”
The city intends to uphold its ban and has threatened the
pot shop owners with a $500 fine for each day it opens its doors for business. City leaders sent an objection letter to the state in November against giving the store a state license. The city also told the owners in a letter it would not issue them a city business license.
Police Chief John Flood said “there is a plan in place”
should it open for business. So far, only state license papers are taped to the entry door.
“We are in a ‘wait and see’ mode,” Flood told the Public Safety Commission last week. “Right now, on the books, the city has the ability to red-tag the business and fine them for every day that they’re in operation, which is
$500 a day. I did let the business owner know that this was there, and he was very polite in response to me, saying, ‘that’s nothing.’ So they know that they can easily afford to pay that fine every single day and continue to operate.”
“Nothing” may be some-thing. 
The Kushery owns two other retail branches along Highway 9.
During 2016, one location made $1.7 million in gross sales and the other made $2.7 million in gross sales, according to www.502data.com — both stores gross more than $175,000 in sales monthly.
The state has communicated with the city that local ordinances do not entirely axe state law or prevent issuing a state license.
“We do not have the ability to deny the license just based on the city’s objection or a local moratorium,” said Liquor and Cannabis Board spokesman Brian Smith. “There’s nothing in law that allows that denial unless there is a criminal history or chronic illegal activity or non-compliance. Snohomish has that ability, to uphold their own ban, within their jurisdiction.”
Before The Kushery Snohomish received its state license for a retail marijuana shop in Snohomish, the city had sent letters to the state in late November requesting the license not be approved.
“There are many, many state laws I have to follow as a retail marijuana shop owner and this city issue would be considered a zoning violation,” Shade said. “The difference is, here, it gets very political.”
He said the state is focused on shops following state restrictions and product safety standards.
“The state focuses on the bigger picture,” he said.
Shade owns two other The Kushery locations in Clearview and at 134th and Cathcart Way, and said he has lived near or outside of Snohomish for decades and brings his personal business and leisure time into town. He said he was the original applicant for a Snohomish shop after Initiative 502 was passed by voters in 2012, and has had his eye on Snohomish for its small-town feel and customer base.
There is a demand, he said. “Also, since the medical marijuana shops have closed, where can those customers go for their marijuana?” Shade said. “Out of town? Say, a cancer patient who cannot drive far, where are they supposed to go? Snohomish was one of those cities whose people voted primarily for marijuana, so I think it would do well.”
The owners of The Kushery Snohomish got into a space lease for a suite next to the 76 gas station at 202 Avenue D a few years ago. It’s still vacant as of last week.
State Liquor and Cannabis Board officials point to the Attorney General’s Official Opinion on the matter from January 2014, and say that carries the full weight of the law. The official opinion states retail marijuana businesses can operate where they choose, within the parameters the state dictates, but cities can impose their own rules and enforce them.
From the debrief, Public Safety Commission members called the issue “a stand-off” between the city and the shop owners.

 

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