On Monday, Okanogan County Commissioners announced that they would adopt the recommendations from the Cannabis Advisory Committee (CAC) members as interim controls for the county. The CAC is comprised of several WSIA members in Okanogan Country that have advocated for sensible cannabis regulation in the county for years.
This decision lifted a moratorium on new cannabis businesses in the county and expansion of existing ones, while also further defining the rules on where hemp may be cultivated. The interim rules require that hemp is cultivated at least 10 miles from any i502 recreational cannabis cultivation operations and zoning for hemp will be confined to a specific area under a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) where i502 recreational cannabis cultivation will not be allowed. Before the moratorium, all cannabis operations were subject to a CUP process, creating uncertainty for residents and cannabis producers alike, now there are a number of zones where cannabis operations do not require a CUP process, and a few high-density population areas where cannabis is not allowed at all. This creates better clarity for residents and more financial certainty for those looking to invest in cannabis in Okanogan county.
The CAC received kudos from Jim Detro, one of the most conservative commissioners and most reticent to embrace cannabis. He was told by other counties that a cannabis advisory board of industry and non-industry folks wouldn’t work, but it did. The moratorium was lifted and interim controls were passed unanimously by the three commissioners. This has proven that cannabis can be successfully integrated into communities with a little bit of open communication and cooperation between cannabis business owners and non-industry residents.