Recreational marijuana producer and processor David Kois of Olympia will have to wait until at least next month before the Centralia City Council officially decides to allow or further ban recreational sales within city limits.
Reaffirming their decision from two weeks prior, the council voted 4-3 Tuesday to keep the current moratorium in place and extend it an additional six months after a public hearing on May 13.
State law requires a public hearing to be held 60 days after a moratorium is issued.
Councilors John Elmore, Patrick Gallagher, Bonnie Canaday and Bart Ricks voted down approving pot sales.
Kois tried to convince the council to vote otherwise, saying that his interests are legitimate.
“The Liquor Control Board has intentionally taken a lot of time weeding out who shouldn’t be in this business,” Kois said. “I’m hoping you’ll understand that we’re qualified business people, concerned with the same things that the city would be.”
Gallagher said the moratorium was put in place so the state could resolve conflicting laws and so Centralia could see how other cities handle similar situations.
Neither one of those scenarios has happened.
Mayor Canaday voted against lifting the moratorium. She declined to comment the following day and deferred all questions to City Attorney Shannon Murphy-Olson.
At the meeting, Murphy-Olson noted that State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has said cities have the authority to ban or allow recreational marijuana, but the Liquor Control Board acts as if municipalities don’t.
”The state has put us in a very, very precarious position,” she said.
Kois told councilmembers that finding a new location will be difficult and would mean losing at least a year’s worth of production time. He also said that out of potential 1,000 locations, maybe only one is compliant with state laws and local ordinances. Speaking after the meeting, he said the Liquor Control Board now puts marijuana retail applicants to the bottom of their list if they change locations in their applications. That could add an extra six months to the process.
Kois used to restore European sports cars for a living, then transitioned into the electric vehicle market. He got involved with medical marijuana after traditional treatments for his Crohn's disease failed. He owns “Loaded Soda,” an Olympia based business that makes and distributes marijuana infused products to more than 400 medical marijuana dispensaries statewide.
He wants to build a 35,000-square-foot recreational marijuana processing facility in Centralia near the Greenwood Memorial Park cemetery. The facility will not have a retail space as The Chronicle mistakenly reported in previous articles. He claims the facility will earn up to $100 million annually.
“I think the Liquor Control Board is trying to force things to a head. That puts companies in this industry and cities like Centralia in a bad position,” he said.
“We have to move forward at this location — hopefully with the city’s consent,” he said.
Kois told The Chronicle that he will sue the city if marijuana sales aren’t allowed, but he’s not going to resort to that yet.
“Honestly, I am not 100 percent sure when we proceed with a suit at this point. I’m going to keep working with the city.” he said. “We’re supposed to be licensed by the first of July. I want to be working by then. I’ve gotta start working to recoup the money we’ve put into this.”
If Kois’ push for his business is successful, Centralia could become the first city in Washington to have a retail marijuana business.
“It’s coming. We should prepare for it. We’re not there yet collectively as a council,” Gallagher said. “I’m not bothered at all by his business. I just don’t know what good it achieves to have that substance available in Centralia. I’d rather pick a different battle than this.”
The current moratorium ends May 13. A public hearing on the six-month extension will be held that night at Centralia City Hall at 7 p.m.