After five years of operating on temporary regulations, Thurston County commissioners could make rules on where marijuana businesses can operate permanent later this month.
Once voters passed marijuana legalization, it was up to local governments to decide where marijuana producers, processors and retailers could set up shop. Thurston County passed interim zoning regulations for unincorporated parts of the county in November 2013, the same month the state started taking application to license marijuana businesses.
The interim rules had to be renewed at least every six months, and each time the county had to hold a public hearing on extending them. Over time, county officials narrowed the scope of where businesses were allowed, including blocking new businesses from opening in agricultural and rural residential zones.
Other amendments were made in response to changes in state regulations, according to Olympian archives.
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“We were busy investigating different avenues and different issues associated with it,” said Jeremy Davis, a senior planner for the county.
Under the latest draft, businesses will be permitted only in certain industrial or commercial districts, depending on whether they are producers, processors or retailers.
Since 2013, the interim regulations have been renewed 13 times, most recently last month. In 2016, commissioners considered passing permanent regulations but held off to make changes in response to concerns from the public.
According to the Municipal Research and Services Center, Thurston County is one of the last jurisdictions in the state still operating on interim zoning regulations.
A public hearing on whether to make the interim regulations permanent is scheduled for 3 p.m. Dec. 11 in Building 1, Room 280 of the county complex at 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW in Olympia.
Commissioners could vote at the end of the hearing. They also could ask for changes or vote at a later meeting.