Nearly a dozen residents turned out at the Jan. 26 Sultan City Council meeting to publicly oppose allowing a recreational marijuana retailer to move into the city.
Josh Shade, who owns recreational marijuana stores in Snohomish County, also advocates for his niece Jona Cheatham, owner of the Last Stop Pot Shop in Gold Bar. Both see Sultan as a potential area to expand business, Cheatham said. Shade first proposed the idea to the council at its Jan. 12 meeting. Shade said there is untapped tax revenue the city could be earning by allowing marijuana-related businesses to operate, although the state continues to withhold a significant amount in proportion to the cities.
Snohomish County has 37 retailers and 80 producers and processors that have raised nearly $41 million through the excise tax, according to i502 Data, an organization that monitors and reports marijuana operation activities in Washington.
Gold Bar has two marijuana retailers, including the Last Stop, and a handful of producer and processor operations, which are taxable. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board initially collects the 37 percent tax and returns a portion to the cities the following year.
In 2017, Gold Bar received nearly $3,500 from in 2016 taxes. Cities also do take some sales tax from marijuana businesses. Sultan has an 8.9 percent sales tax rate. Of that, Sultan receives roughly 2.4 percent, and the state receives the rest, according to the Washington State Department of Revenue.
Resident Mandy Geiger said whatever taxes Sultan could collect from sales wouldn’t justify allowing a retailer in town. The community has worked hard the past three years to clean up the city, and opening up the potential for more crime is not worth it, she said.
Shade compared Sultan’s potential situation to that of Lake Stevens, which has only one retailer. He said crime has gone down in the part of town where the business is located. He also added he has never allowed under age people into the store and never will. He has a clean record so far, which he said is available for anyone to see on the liquor board’s website.
The board’s marijuana violations list shows no citations have been issued to Shade’s business.
Resident Shawn Carr said the business could ruin the aesthetics of the town, which is important to the local tourism industry. He said the odor alone could drive people away, even those passing through on U.S. Highway 2.
Pastor Aaron Day of Crosswater Community Church in Sultan said he grew up with parents who regularly smoked marijuana. He said the community does not need any more people like that.
“They were listless and careless, and were regularly late to work,” Day said.
On behalf of the Sultan School Board, Sultan School District superintendent Dan Chaplik presented a letter to the council in opposition of zoning code changes that would allow marijuana-related businesses in the city.
Sultan City Administrator Ken Walker said city staff has not started to look into changing any laws that would allow marijuana businesses in town, and will only do so at the direction of the council. The council has taken no action on the issue.