The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Commissioners hold forum on pot sales


January 26, 2017

The Wahkiakum County board of commissioners held a town hall meeting at Johnson Park in Rosburg on Tuesday evening to listen to community members discuss the merits and challenges of having a location to sell marijuana in the county.

But first, without irony, the commissioners officially voiced no objections to a liquor license for the Diamond Dinner at the Skamokawa Grange in February.

“The Grange wanted to have a forum and I wanted to make sure people had a voice just so we could hear what it was,” Commissioner Mike Backman said. “I’m not saying that we’re for or against it but we just wanted people to be able to talk about it and figure out what questions there were so we could try to answer those questions if they wanted to move forward, what is the process if they decide to do something.”

Commissioner Blair Brady wanted to make a statement before allowing the public comment.

“After re-reading the laws that the state has laid out, Johnson Park is too close to the Rosburg store, period,” he said. “The county does have the ability to even do a variance to allow that sale to occur by state statute. There are other areas where we have some latitude where if we chose to we could do variances, but not there.”

“The county does not issue permits for pot stores,” Brady continued.

Brady explained that the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board in Olympia issues the permits before notifying the commissioners. He pointed out it was much like the liquor license that the commissioners had just accepted.

“Regardless, they can do what they want,” Brady said. “No one else has applied for a permit to sell marijuana in the county as of yet. No one has been denied, no one has applied, it’s really in the state’s hand not ours and they are not issuing any more permits at this time for retail outlets.

Long an opponent of legalizing marijuana cultivation and sale, Commissioner Dan Cothren left the meeting quietly.

Craig Brown spoke in defense of marijuana for palliative care and suggested that it would be helpful for people who suffered chronic pain to have access to an outlet on the

west and the east side of the county.

Others agreed. Some wondered why the commissioners didn’t take advantage of the revenue that would find its way back into county coffers.

Mark Lethem, who is a volunteer emergency responder on the Westend, shared some research he had done on the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board’s website. He believed that the county would see very little money from marijuana sales, and not enough to pay for law enforcement to have another worry, or to warrant what he believed would be more ambulance visits to local homes.

Either way, Brady pointed out, the state board is currently not issuing permits. Until they do, and someone applies, it’s just talk.


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