Jakob Thorington is a fourth year journalism and media production major at WSU. Thorington loves sports, film and video games.
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Marijuana code under review in Olympia
Changes may include odor ban, minimum distance from schools, churches
March 2, 2020
The proposed marijuana code in Whitman County is close to the approval stage from the County Commissioner’s office.
It is currently under State Environmental Policy Act review in Olympia and a public comment period until March 12.
County Commissioner Dean Kinzer said the commissioner’s office wanted to get the code as tight as possible regarding growing marijuana in the county.
The county’s Planning Commission has been working on the proposed code for nearly a year, Whitman County Planner Alan Thomson said.
During that time, the commissioner’s office sent feedback to the planners to make growing regulation tight, Kinzer said.
“It’s pretty unlikely we’ll send it back to the Planning Commission,” Kinzer said. “They’ve been doing all the heavy lifting and they’re close to sending it to us.”
The proposed code includes a required conditional use permit approved by county commissioners for new marijuana-related businesses, which allows property owners to use their land in ways that are not permitted within a zoning district.
Currently, marijuana growers only need a Liquor and Cannabis Board permit because growing it is considered an agricultural use.
The code also states no operation of marijuana can emit odors that can be detected outside of an indoor growing facility. Kinzer said this is both good for growers and people opposed to the industry.
“Turns out that’s almost going to be totally necessary,” he said.
While people opposed to the industry won’t have to smell marijuana odors, growers will also be able to better maintain their THC production, Kinzer said.
He said marijuana growers use cloned female plants to produce buds containing THC. Pollination from a male marijuana plant will shut down a female plant’s ability to produce buds.
Pollination is much more likely to happen in outdoor facilities where pollen can travel through air currents, he said.
Kinzer said he’s been farming for 46 years and has spent time researching marijuana growing since Initiative 502 passed.
“This is a new one to me,” he said. “It’s very fascinating and we want to mitigate the code for everyone as much as possible.”
Indoor marijuana production or processing facilities must also remain 1,000 feet away from areas the state government has classified as “sensitive uses” such as schools, playgrounds, parks and churches, Kinzer said.
The code would add Palouse Empire Fairgrounds and county trails to that list.
A Planning Commission public hearing regarding the code is scheduled for March 18 in Colfax.
The Washington State Fish and Wildlife Department, the City of Pullman and area conservation districts will provide input in the SEPA review in Olympia.