Local jurisdiction noncompliance issues appear to plague the marijuana industry throughout Washington State. Late last month, Okanogan County issued a temporary moratorium on marijuana grows. Ordinance 2021-9 prohibits new marijuana producing operations as well as any expansion of current production operations for a period of
six months while the county develops permanent rulemaking. According to Pam Wyllson at the Okanogan County Planning Department, this moratorium is in response to significant noncompliance among producers throughout the County. According to Ms. Wyllson, a large number of producers may have failed to obtain proper permits for grow operations and expansions and/or failed to comply with Okanogan County Municipal Code Chapter 17.A.290, which regulates county cannabis operations.
In an effort to bring current producers into compliance, the Ordinance requires all producers make an appointment with the planning department by January 2022 and provide the department with a copy of the following: 1) state marijuana license; and 2) facility site plan. It is expected that the county will likely implement an annual registration and fee system.
Okanogan County is following suit with other jurisdictions, such as Whatcom County which issued a similar Ordinance in April of this year in response to complaints about odor and light pollution from cannabis producers. Those opposed to the moratorium believe that additional county regulations on an already heavily regulated industry could prove prohibitive for cannabis producers. They also argue that many forms of agricultural operations emit noise, odor and light pollution – cannabis is no different and should not be treated differently.
Dynamic Law Group will post updates as these Counties take next steps in establishing amended regulations for local marijuana operators.