Talk of marijuana production has been wafting through both Enumclaw and Buckley in recent days.
Both Plateau communities are hearing of local property owners interested in breaking into the legal world of cannabis production. But, while ideas have been floated, neither city appears close to making a leap toward allowing legal grow operations.
While a request was made, nothing is happening.
The appeal came from local businessman Scott Fitzsimmons, who went before the Enumclaw City Council April 27 to ask something be done that would allow him to lease space to a marijuana producer.
Fitzsimmons owns a warehouse facility at 1101 Battersby Ave. and believes he could see more profit if the space was used for a commercial marijuana-growing operation. And, Fitzsimmons said, there’s no shortage of growers seeking his space.
“I have been approached probably about 10 times now, for growing medical marijuana in my building,” he told the council.
“I know this is a sensitive subject for everybody, but it’s a legal substance now,” Fitzsimmons said, noting that there’s money to be made in the marijuana trade. Aside from filling his own coffers, Fitzsimmons noted that city revenues would be enhanced when perhaps an additional 80 jobs were added.
He assured the council that his building is 100 percent secure. There are no windows, he noted, adding that security staff would be on hand 24 hours a day.
In the larger scheme of things, Fitzsimmons said, marijuana is a growing industry.
“The momentum is there,” he said. “Enumclaw’s not going to stop it. The federal government is looking at legalizing it throughout the country.”
During a private conversation with The Courier-Herald, Fitzsimmons said potential marijuana growers are offering lease payments that triple the income he now receives.
As things now stand, Fitzsimmons’ desires cannot be allowed.
Both the city’s Planning Commission and City Council have taken a stance on marijuana production and sales. While such operations are acknowledged in the city’s zoning code, they’re not allowed anywhere within the city limits.
For Fitzsimmons’ request to become reality, the council would have to approve a zoning change.
As of late last week, nothing had changed on the city’s marijuana front. Erica Shook, who heads the Department of Community Development, said she would need some direction from council to begin initiating any change in zoning. Contacted Friday afternoon, Shook had heard nothing.
Talk about a parcel of land being considered for marijuana production caught the city a bit off guard, Mayor Pat Johnson said.
But the issue is quickly being addressed, she added.
Members of the Buckley City Council met Tuesday night for a regularly-scheduled workshop and were scheduled to address the growing issue, Johnson said.
The word circulating through town is someone is considering buying a parcel of land on McNeely Street. Part two of the conversation is that the proposed buyer would like to manufacture recreational marijuana on the large lot.
Johnson said such a move might be legal from the city’s standpoint. About 10 years ago, when the city last reviewed and adopted its Comprehensive Plan, land in the area under consideration was OK’d for agricultural purposes.
Back then, Johnson said, no one thought about cannabis as a legal crop. Keeping an agricultural designation, she said, was a way to protect people who might keep a horse on their land, she said.
Also, a decade ago there were few homes in the area, compared with today.
Johnson said if such a move were in the works, it would first go to the state’s Liquor Control Board, meaning the city would be kept out of the immediate loop.
Council members have options at their disposal, the mayor said, including passing an emergency moratorium prohibiting marijuana-growing operations. Such a move would not impact the two retail shops now selling recreational marijuana in the city limits.