12 seek permits to grow marijuana in Benton, Franklin counties

Tri-City HeraldNovember 26, 2013 

Twelve applicants with names like Horse Heaven Hills High and Fireweed Farms have applied for state licenses to grow marijuana in the Mid-Columbia.

Five others applied to open retail outlets in Kennewick, Richland, West Richland and Pasco, even though all four cities have moratoriums on pot-related businesses.

The retail sites are currently coffee stands, liquor and convenience stores and vacant storefronts in popular strip malls, according to information released Tuesday by the state Liquor Control Board.

Statewide, 585 applicants have filed for licenses to grow, process or sell marijuana after voters agreed to legalize recreational use of the drug.

The proposed businesses have yet to be reviewed by liquor control board officials, said Brian Smith, spokesman for the liquor board.

“That’s raw data that hasn’t been vetted by us,” he said.

A business called “The Chronicle” lists the shopping center at 5601 W. Clearwater Ave. in Kennewick as where it wants to set up shop.

Scott Sautell with Windermere Tri-Cities said he’s had inquiries from people wanting to open a marijuana store there, but he has no plans to sell to them.

People have been interested because it’s one of the few spots in Kennewick that the city has said might be appropriate for marijuana sales, Sautell said. But he doesn’t want to upset other tenants, including a Thai restaurant.

“We wouldn’t want to do it until everybody else is on board,” he said.

A hookah bar, where customers share flavored tobacco, previously tried to open in the same shopping center, but Kennewick rejected the business because of concerns with smoke, said one neighbor, Larry Allaway, owner of the nearby AmeriComm cellular and satellite store.

“I’d be a little concerned about what kind of people it would draw in here,” Allaway said.

Across the river in Pasco, Lucky Leaf LLC applied to open up shop in the same Road 68 strip mall as Shakey’s Pizza and The Pita Pit.

Officials with NAI Tri-Cities, the real estate company for two vacant storefronts in the shopping center, could not be reached Tuesday.

Marijuana businesses are not supposed to be within 1,000 feet of places such as schools, day care centers, public parks and libraries, said Smith with the liquor board.

Marijuana businesses are not allowed near arcades either, but Smith did not know whether Shakey’s, which has some video games, would qualify as an arcade.

The One Stop Mart is proposing opening at 3012 Road 68, across Argent Road from Magill’s Restaurant in Pasco, at the site of a home and a coffee stand.

Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield said he could not discuss what would be acceptable locations of marijuana-related businesses because of the current moratorium.

“I can’t predict the future,” he said. “We have a moratorium in place and the purpose of the moratorium is to work through the details.”

The moratoriums range from six months to a year, with city officials saying they could be dropped sooner if the cities adopt rules for marijuana sales.

One Stop Mart No. 11 applied to open at 1903 Jadwin Ave. in Richland. That’s currently the site of Joe’s Chevron station. Employees there declined to talk about the application Tuesday.

West Richland Liquor, 4083 W. Van Giesen St., also applied for a marijuana retail license under the name West Richland Smoke. Owner Kuo-Ying Frenzel said she was too busy to talk Tuesday.

Retail applicants are supposed to list the site of the planned store on their license applications, but some may not have understood that, Smith said.

Most cities in Benton and Franklin counties had fewer people apply for marijuana sales licenses than the state allotted.

The liquor control board plans to allow up to four stores each in Kennewick and Pasco, three in Richland, one in West Richland, two in Benton County outside the three larger cities and one in Franklin County outside Pasco.

Applications for marijuana producing and processing businesses do not have those restrictions.

Nine companies applied for licenses to both grow and process marijuana in the counties.

They were Body Works Alternatives and Trichometechnologies in Kennewick, Buckingham Buds LLC and RLH Cannabis in West Richland, Fireweed Farms and Horse Heaven Hills High in Prosser, Botany Unlimited Design and Supply in Pasco, O2 Sun in Benton City and Heinen Brothers in Eltopia.

Red Mountain Natural Products and Terria Lee Sallee in Benton City and West Coast Productions in Kennewick applied only for marijuana production licenses.

The owner of Buckingham Buds, who said he named the company after his last name but declined to give his first name, said he has been growing marijuana for medicinal use since 1998 and wanted to expand.

While his application lists his home as the site of the business, he said he plans to grow marijuana at another site in Benton County, not in his West Richland neighborhood.

He said he is not worried about the moratoriums.

“Eventually, they’re going to have to comply,” he said.

Applicants for marijuana-related businesses are required to be over 21, pass a criminal background check and be Washington residents for at least three months, Smith said.

The state expects to start issuing licenses in late February or March, with the first stores opening in the state in late May or June.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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