As many marijuana business owners have come to understand, in addition to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (the “Board”), there are a number of other state and local agencies that must approve marijuana facilities. I have written extensively in regard to complying with local zoning requirements, but other permitting requirements can and often do arise.
Recently, the Board sent out an email on behalf of the Puget Sound Clear Air Agency (“PSCAA”), which enforces air quality standards in King, Kitsap, Snohomish and Pierce counties. Marijuana producers and processors in these counties need to seek approval from PSCAA prior to commencing operations via submission of a Notice of Construction application and Application for Approval.
Most local jurisdictions already require marijuana production and processing facilities to install engineered HVAC systems to prevent contaminants and odors emanating from the property. The PSCAA’s requirements add another layer of regulation for marijuana businesses in its subject jurisdictions. The Northwest Clean Air Agency, which covers Whatcom, Skagit and Island counties, does not yet specifically require marijuana businesses to seek its approval before starting operations. As the marijuana industry grows, however, it is likely that local and state agencies will increase rather than decrease their regulatory requirements for marijuana businesses.
In considering the time and expense required in starting a marijuana business, potential licensees often overlook these type of permitting requirements. In addition to making sure that the you comply with zoning requirements, it is important to carefully evaluate building and fire code requirements, water sourcing and quality issues, required septic/sewer improvements, etc. Often these issues end up eating into operating capital and delaying commencement of business operations.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to know your state and local code regulations before finalizing any marijuana business plan. Marijuana business owners would be wise to talk to their local planning jurisdiction before finalizing any building/operational plans as knowing ahead of time what is required can save future headaches.
For more information on the regulation of marijuana businesses, please contact Heather Wolf.