"The reason that we decided to hold this forum is that there are still a lot of questions from the community," said Danni Massin of the EDC. "Some people were for it, some people were against it. We hope that this forum will serve to answer some of the questions about the industry that people still have."
Moderated by Judge Joel Penoyar the panel addressing the public consisted of Raymond High School Principal Dave Vetter, Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson, Raymond Police Chief Chuck Spoor, Pacific County Commissioner Steve Rogers, Pacific County Administrative Assistant Massin, Mike Shults of Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, and H.J. Norris Managing Member of Mr. Doobees recreational marijuana store.
Not attending on the panel, but providing answers to question deemed in their area of expertise and responsibility were Port of Willapa Harbor Manager Rebecca Chaffee and South Bend Mayor Julie Struck. It should be noted that Mayor Struck provided answers knowing that she would have a conflict, but was able to attend at the last minutes and sat with the public.
Of the 32 programmed questions provided by at least six members of the community, several had similar intent that pared down the actual list and in responding, other like questions were also answered.
The largest amount of inquires dealt with the current progress of the industry, the impact of the new business to Pacific County and cities, jobs, products, and if tours would be possible. Tax revenue, along with education and safety, were the next popular subjects with the impact to law enforcement, anticipated crime and DUI testing, next. A few questions dealt with the environmental impact and water shortages.
It was brought to light that only a few marijuana producers and processors are actually up and running at this point. Of the 15 companies who are licensed to operate in recreational marijuana, in Pacific County, only three producer and/or processors are cultivating product along with one retail marijuana store in Raymond. The second retail marijuana retail outlet, set to open in South Bend, is looking to possibly be open in the next few weeks, but has not been confirmed at this point.
The delay for the majority of licensed producer/processors seems to be around construction and many of them will be running outdoor green houses that are popping up along Port of Willapa Harbor properties. Other delays are the back and forth of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, getting final inspections done prior to operation. The numbers do not include medical marijuana businesses, as the forum was around the recreational industry.
A few jobs have been noted among the producers/processors mainly in the construction field and a few internal positions in the active ones, trimmers, management staff and security. There is still anticipation for more jobs to open up as more producers and processors come on line, and the retail stores have hired a few local residents. It was noted that people who have a horticultural background could be of service in the near future, and general labor dealing with the care and upkeep of plants, and maintenance. As the industry grows other positions may be required with the running of the business and operations.
It was noted over and over again during the forum, that with the new industry, and the state still making changes in how the marijuana business will evolve. It is a wait and see situation on several aspects dealing with the new growth market. Some new products were discussed dealing with infused drinks and edibles that are starting to appear in retail stores. But for the majority of products on the market, the standard fare of flowers in various gram weights are available, JUJU Joints, prerolled marijuana cigarettes, edibles and glass and vapor products, can be found locally. As the industry grows and consumer demand starts to push select items, the variety will only grow.
The final note on the availability of tours into any production or processing business was "not at this time," and possibly never. But Mr. Doobees did respond that if the public still has unanswered questions that they are willing to speak to anyone about the industry and give them a look at anything thing they have available.
Many people wanted to know about tax revenue. In the current structure the State taxes from 50-75% depending on the increments that the specific sale of marijuana goes through, along with normal sales tax at time of purchase. The cities are seeing some B&O tax, but it is minimal at this point. The Port of Willapa Harbor is getting revenue from the leasing of properties, but most of the tax dollars raised is going back into the State coffers.
It is anticipated that cities will start seeing new projects funded from the proceeds generated by the marijuana industry by way of grants becoming available. To date, the WSLCB reports that from June 2014 to March 2015 the industry has generated just short of $107 million dollars in sales from all levels of the marijuana structure and has collected $20 million in excise tax through the end of January this year.
Education and safety of the community ran hand-in-hand meaning that the more the community is educated on marijuana the safer it will be for the youth of the community and residents overall.
The overall response was that concerned parents should treat the product like another product that is intended for adult consumption and inform their kids about their beliefs around the product like they would with alcohol or prescription drug use. Local law enforcement made note that they are always available for the schools and have continued their efforts to help educate youth about the product, and its possible impact to their life.
In the audience local fire departments did say that the issues they have been experiencing with response calls are coming more from "experienced" adults who have not tried marijuana in a number of years, but now that it has become legal, they have started again. With physical changes one goes through as they age, marijuana seems to have a more direct impact then what was once experienced in their youth when they first tried the entertainment value of marijuana.
It has also been noted that those with prior experience and are of age are looking for a possible replacement for their prescription medications without the severe side effects that they have been experiencing. And several others are starting to move away from alcohol utilizing marijuana.
Law Enforcement spoke that the current test to determine if someone is under the influence of marijuana is a blood test, and individuals would be brought to a facility for that test if it were determined further investigation was required when a DUI stop was being made. Even though marijuana is now legal for those 21 and over in the State, it is still against the law to be driving under the influence of anything.
The environment does not seem to be having any direct impact from the industry as producers and processors are doing a great job with utilizing the majority of the waste from the product and many are recycling as well. And with the anticipated ramping up of more in the industry, cities and the port are already looking at the water issue speaking to the amount of water used in the industry. Current progress at what many are calling the Marcus Charles Operation out at the Dick Taylor Industrial Park, has gone through a few stoppages, but is continuing and may not be designed as first thought.
Overall, the forum was a success and did answer questions for the community about the industry, but it is a cultivation of the industry that we will have to wait a little longer as it continues to grow in the area.
|No Related Articles|
You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!
Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: