In addition to complying with Washington State’s recreational marijuana regulations, each licensee will need to comply with applicable local ordinances, including zoning, building, and business licensing regulations.
Through zoning regulations, local jurisdictions have either prohibited recreational marijuana operations or designated areas where these businesses may operate. Whether the moratoria and overly restrictive zoning ordinances will withstand legal scrutiny remains to be seen.
In those jurisdictions that allow marijuana businesses, new facilities will have to comply with local building codes and other development regulations. These development conditions, however, must be fairly applied and should not be imposed in such a manner as to make it infeasible for recreational marijuana businesses to operate.
Anyone seeking to challenge a local jurisdiction’s denial or conditional approval of a recreational marijuana facility must first exhaust all administrative remedies. For example, if in constructing a new marijuana facility, an unreasonable building permit condition is imposed then you need to file an administrative appeal of that building permit condition in a timely manner. The same holds true for any administrative decision by a local official affecting the operation of a marijuana production, processing, or retail site.
Thus, it is critical to determine the appeal timelines for any local decision that may affect your ability to operate your recreational marijuana facility. Failure to exhaust administrative remedies may result in a waiver of your future appeal rights and/or your ability to challenge the actions of a local jurisdiction in state court.
For more information on the regulation of recreational marijuana businesses in Whatcom County and elsewhere in Washington State, please contact Heather Wolf.