A handful of residents turned out for the Feb. 23 Sultan City Council meeting to support allowing recreational marijuana retail in the city.
Devon Wetzel, a 21-year resident of Sultan, started his few minutes of public comment by saying he isn’t a pot smoker, but can see the city needs more businesses. Over the years, he said he has seen more leave than come; that the area is “littered with abandonment.”
The argument that they attract a “certain type of person,” isn’t enough to rule out the model entirely, he said, and “if you stop what you are doing and inhale through your nose, they are already here.”
Galaxy Chocolates owner Kathryne Paz was not in attendance at the meeting. She said she believes if a liquor store can operate on Main Street, then there shouldn’t be any reason to ban marijuana businesses.
“I just don’t see a problem with it,” she said. “It’s the older generation that doesn’t want to open up to anything new.”
Resident Trish Kenagy said she would like to see less condemning of marijuana businesses. She referred to herself as a recovering alcoholic, with various associated medical issues. When she was sent home from treatment last year, she said cannabis oil was the only way she could cope with detoxing for six months straight.
“It enabled me to sleep, which enabled me to heal,” she said. ”It enabled me to want to eat when I was throwing up.”
Kenagy told councilmembers she is a contributing member of society, who recently received the Sultan-Monroe Masonic Lodge 160 Community Service Award during the 19th annual Sky Valley Community Awards Celebration Potluck on Feb. 11. The drug has medicinal properties that can really help people, she said.
“I am a disabled nurse,” she said. “I don’t speak from my degree, but as a patient... please consider this, because we really need the medicine out here as well.”
The recent discussions around allowing marijuana businesses in Sultan are largely prompted by recreational pot retailers Josh Shade and niece Jona Cheatham, who owns of the Last Stop Pot Shop in Gold Bar. Both are interested in expanding into Sultan. Shade has said the city could benefit from more tax revenue.
Snohomish County’s 37 retailers and 80 producers and processors 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 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 2016 taxes. Cities also take some sales tax from marijuana businesses. Sultan has an 8.9 percent sales tax rate; Sultan receives roughly 2.4 percent, and the state takes the rest, according to the state Department of Revenue.
The majority of voters in Sultan’s precincts passed Initiative 502 in 2012, according to the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office.
Mayor Carolyn Eslick said the current city council will likely not change its current stance on banning recreational marijuana retailers in Sultan. Manufacturers and growers are allowed in Sultan’s industrial district, she said.
Many residents that have spoken against the businesses “have worked hard in the last few years to clean up the parks and help with homeless issues, and their feeling was it would be a step backward if there was a retail marijuana store in Sultan,” Eslick said. She added there are council seats that will be up for election this year. If anyone is interested in changing things, running is an option, she said.