Posted by: sweeneyblog | February 11, 2014

County Council Responds to Complaints Over Marijuana Grows

UPDATE: At their evening meeting, the Whatcom County Council passed an emergency moratorium. More info to follow.

At their committee meeting this morning, the County Council once again faced complaints from property rights advocates, but this time, team Tea Party wanted the long arm of municipal government to stop marijuana grows planned for the county. Sam Crawford was leading the charge, bringing up fears of robberies and violence in rural neighborhoods involving these grows.

Mann Pushes Back Over Grows

Mann Pushes Back Over Grows

“What exactly are we afraid of here?” Ken Mann repeatedly asked the council. “Do we think there are going to be shootouts at these farms?” Tyler Schroeder, planning manager for the Whatcom County Planning Department, walked the council through the restrictions already in place (1000 feet from any hospital, school, transit center, arcade, playground or park, all outdoor grows need to be enclosed in a wall at least eight feet tall with video camera surveillance, etc).

Rud Browne noted that the crime rates for medical marijuana locations is no higher than any other business, while Pete Kremen expressed concerns that people would break in and steal the buds and immediately turn around to sell them, apparently unaware that it takes several weeks to harvest, dry and prepare marijuana before it can be consumed.

Carl Weimer struck at the irony of the complaints they had received. “I’m not opposed to setbacks, I’d like to see some setbacks implemented for other large scale operations out in the county like slaughterhouses and mushroom farms . . . I just don’t want to implement a whole bunch of restrictions and have all this business go down to Skagit where they aren’t doing this.”

All this struck me as quite humorous considering that the same people who want to regulate these marijuana grows were completely opposed to any sort of regulation of the Slaughterhouses last year. How do I feel? I think the council could implement some minor tweaks to ensure that these grows are safe and non-disruptive (making sure fans don’t pump the smell right into someone else’s house, for instance) but the state has set up some pretty restrictive rules for these grows, so there is not much left in the hands of the council to do.

The committee ended the discussion by directing the planning department to develop a few options and get back to them.



  1. I’m dying over here, Riley! Thank you so much for this post. The photo of Ken is especially priceless.

    • I actually have a whole folder on my computer titled “Frustrated Ken Mann”. I should do a gallery.

      • Show it during artwalk.

      • A gallery on the sidewalk in front of Rumors would be great.

  2. The Tea Party folks want government to stay out of people’s lives and let them make free choices — unless those choices are about a woman’s reproductive rights, sex, gambling, drugs or immigration. It’s getting old — and boring.

    • BS, the TEA Party is primarily concerned with big government and exorbitant taxes. You are the boring one.

      • Ah, Wayne, if only this were true. Virtually all the legislation proposed by the extreme right, both locally and nationally, has focused on women’s health, abortion, restricting access to voting, undermining unions and repealing the ACA.

  3. They weren’t too concerned about violence when they approved 88,000 acres for slaughter, which is know to increase violent and sexual crimes

    • Not only wrong, Tip… but very, very weird… processing cattle is “know (sic) to increase violent and sexual crimes…” ???

    • Only if you are Jack the Ripper.

    • Following the link Tip provided, it appears much of the interest in the connection between violence and slaughterhouses is on animal rights pages. Y’all can debate eating meat or not, but for those who do eat meat, a local humane slaughterhouse is a good choice. There has been some incredible over the top reaction to this issue.

  4. Could you identify the members of “team tea party?” As we saw from the blood drenched flyer last year regarding cattle processing, people are sometimes identified as “tea party” whether they have any association with the tea party or not. The primary qualification for identification as a “tea party” participant has all too often become, “Anyone who doesn’t agree with me.”

    • Because Tea Party beliefs are so hard to pin down because they range from economic libertarianism to religious conservatism, I believe that the democrats in town would identify Tea Party members as people who are more conservative than the Republican party.

  5. I would think that theft/shoplifting issues would be of more concern in retail outlets, not in the growing/manufacturing side. For example, since privatization, liquor theft is becoming a big problem (i.e. getting into the hands of minors) and our legislature is currently contemplating requiring retailers to take more safeguards against theft. But, unlike many supermarkets and other alcohol retailers, I doubt marijuana retail stores will be stacking displays of weed near the entrances and will likely keep it under glass.

    Also, much of the concern related to a continued marijuana black market and increased robberies/theft is overstated. While we are likely to see illegal sales continue for the short term, (while supply and costs stabilize) for the most part, it will soon disappear. Why do I think this? For the same reasons we don’t see a large black market for liquor, wine, or tobacco; it’s generally cheaper and (more importantly) LEGAL, to purchase from a licensed retailer.

    • All good points Steve. This makes me think of the hop growers in Yakima – hop is part of making an intoxicant, but living next to a hop grower isn’t riskier than any other ag product. Growing marijuana is just like any other commercial ag activity – smelly & noisy and just part of farming.

      In another year we will have outdoor grow operations across Washington. Why would this one uniquely be a target for thieves?

  6. Riley, I guess you are a Vegan.

    • Wayne, I had breakfast with Riley yesterday (Tues) and, believe me, he ain’t no vegan. 🙂

  7. Thanks for the fun post Riley. You got everyone going here.I do think the more discussion, the better informed folks will be. Not about the tea party, but pot grows and the rules already in place.

  8. I just got a ping back request where I see that you referenced the Whatcom Tea Party as the same people supporting the slaughterhouse being opposed to a pot growing operation. It is ironic, isn’t it? Or it would be if the people in the neighborhood surrounding the proposed grow-op were tea party regulars, but they were not.

    The lower-case ‘L’ libertarians in the tea party would probably support legalized pot, and grow-ops, although they would also support the right of local land owners to speak out against something like that in their immediate neighborhood. I guess ‘NIMBY’ doesn’t observe party lines.

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