After many chapters in the history of legalized marijuana sales on the Key Peninsula, the story may be reaching a conclusion.
Clint Pipkin, owner of the now closed Herb N Wellness in Key Center, hopes to open for business in August in the space next to Harvest Time Country Store near Lake Kathryn Village. KP Healing Center, which had been at that site, did not renew its lease in June.
Pipkin's new business will have a new name: Weed Patch USA. If there is a sufficient need or demand, he’ll consider reopening the old Key Center store.
The new store will offer both medicinal and recreational sales. Pipkin noted that the product is the same, though medicinal clients often receive specific advice about the type of marijuana and dosing that will work best for their condition. In addition, medical clients do not pay a sales tax.
"The medical part is my soft spot, and we will continue to provide that service," said Pipkin.
Before he can open, Pipkin will need to get his state license, and the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board is behind schedule. Once he has the license, he will apply for a needed conditional use permit with Pierce County.
According to Pierce County Councilman Derek Young (D-7th), the permit should be processed on an expedited schedule, taking weeks instead of months.
"I am very happy this is finally over. It’s been a long struggle, and now I am ready to concentrate on other issues I really care about," Young said.
Confused? Here Are Some Highlights of Marijuana Legalization in Washington
1998: Initiative 692 passed with 59 percent of the vote, decriminalizing medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients in Washington state. Medicinal dispensaries, largely unregulated, opened in various locations.
2012: Initiative 502 passed with 55 percent of the vote and a voter turnout of 79 percent. Recreational use was decriminalized statewide and the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (formerly the Liquor Control Board) was tasked with implementation.
2014: First recreational marijuana store opened. Pierce County Council requires sellers to prove that the sale of marijuana is not a Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substance Act in order to get a conditional use permit, essentially a de facto ban.
April 2015: Washington State Senate Bill 5052 became law, requiring all dispensaries to be state licensed by July 2016.
Dec. 2015: Pierce County Council passed an ordinance allowing licensed sale and production of recreational marijuana. At the same meeting, the council approved a public advisory vote regarding continued sale and processing of marijuana in specified zones in unincorporated Pierce County.
April 2016: Nonbinding Advisory Vote on Proposition 1 to allow sale and processing in approved zones did not pass, with only 48 percent in favor. Voter turnout was 30 percent. On the Key Peninsula, 61 percent voted in favor.
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