Pullman pot shops a month behind rest of state

JACOB RUMMEL | Evergreen reporter

The state Liquor Control Board expects to issue licenses for marijuana retailers across the state July 7, but those in Pullman will need at least another month to set up shop.

The Pullman City Council approved zoning laws last February that will enable up to three retailers to sell recreational marijuana in commercial zones near the north side of the city. These zones were established in accordance with a state law that requires retailers to operate at least 1,000 feet away from all schools, parks and day cares.

Some in the recreational marijuana industry have said such restrictions make it difficult to find a suitable location for a store.

“When you take a map of the City of Pullman, and you put the requirements of a thousand feet from all sensitive areas, you basically wipe out the whole town,” said Shelley Bennett, a commercial real estate broker who is working with the three potential Pullman retailers.

Another source of difficulty, Bennett said, is that potential sellers in Pullman are still leery of the federal government. Washington state has deemed marijuana legal for recreational use, but it’s still illegal elsewhere under federal law.

“(U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder) said they would turn a blind eye to it, but it’s still an unknown,” Bennett said.

The three retailers have secure locations for their shops, but contracts are still being finalized. Two of them will share the space formerly occupied by the tanning salon Tanfastics at 1340 S.E. Bishop Blvd. The third also will be located on that street.

Their license applications are in the final inspection stage of the Liquor Control Board’s approval process.

“We are making sure everything they have put on paper actually exists in real life,” said Mikhail Carpenter, a representative for the Liquor Control Board.

Recreational marijuana stores are expected to open across the state July 8 – the first day a retailer can operate after receiving a license. Bennett said Pullman retailers likely won’t open their doors until August, when fall semester begins.

“Once we issue the license, it’s a business decision on their part when they open,” Carpenter said.

None of the three potential retailers could be reached for comment.