Castle Rock marijuana laws now in effect

Stephen Floyd

The Castle Rock city council passed an emergency ordinance last week regulating recreational marijuana facilities and taking effect Nov. 13.

The ordinance, passed unanimously on its second reading during their Nov. 12 meeting, was given emergency status so it would become effective immediately after passage, rather than the normal eight-day waiting period for regular ordinances.

This was done to beat the Nov. 18 opening day for recreational marijuana license applications trough the Liquor Control Board, according to City Attorney Frank Randolph, who stated the city could have been negatively impacted by unregulated marijuana facilities established in areas of town otherwise considered inappropriate for such businesses.

The zone chosen for marijuana facilities, including those for cultivation, processing and retail, is the C-2 Business District directly east of Exit 48, which had also been zoned for medical marijuana collective gardens in 2011.

City Planner TJ Keiran said C-2 had been selected because it is far from the businesses in the downtown core, as well as tourist traffic at Exit 49.

He also noted, as of the night of the meeting, no individuals had directly stated their intent to open a recreational marijuana facility in Castle Rock, unlike neighboring Vader where a Seattle-based developer has described specific plans for a marijuana production and processing facility.

Keiran did state individuals have been inquiring of Castle Rock's new regulations, including a developer from Battle Ground seeking a location for a production facility, but no one has yet committed themselves to building in the town.

Whether or not Castle Rock's new regulations will be accepted by developers, as well as opponents of recreational marijuana, remains up in the air, stated Randolph, who categorized the issue of recreational marijuana as uncharted legal territory for cities in Washington.

He said the options available to those who may wish to challenge the ordinance in court are many and varied, and was reluctant to describe a scenario in which the city could face suit given the volume of unknowns involved.

He did state, however, legal opinions published by the Association of Washington Cities (AWC), Castle Rock's insurance carrier, indicated the regulations passed by the council are most likely to stand against a legal challenge, as opposed to depending on a moratorium, which Randolph previously described as a potential drain on legal resources as developers could well argue the city was interfering with their new legal right to deal in marijuana.

He did state the ordinance passed by the council had been based on a draft ordinance prepared by AWC and assured officials AWC would be ready to go to bat for cities who adopted the ordinance if legal challenges did emerge.

As of press time, there have still been no notifications of recreational marijuana developers interested in setting up shop in Castle Rock, according to information from the Liquor Control Board.