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Kent medical marijuana operator applies for recreational pot license

The operator of a medical marijuana collective garden in Kent has applied for a state license to sell recreational marijuana at the same location.

Deryck Tsang, who runs Herbal Choice Caregivers, 19011 68th Ave. S., at a North Kent strip mall, is one of the latest of the Kent applicants who hope to get recreational marijuana business licenses from the state Liquor Control Board, bringing the total number of applicants up to 29 in the city, including 11 retail outlets.

Tsang has run a medical marijuana collective garden in Kent since 2011. He has fought the city in King County Superior Court and state courts to stay open.

The city of Kent bans medical and recreational marijuana businesses. City officials plan to change land use codes in 2014 in order to have a permanent ban against marijuana businesses rather than an ordinance with a six-month ban.

Other new Kent applicants on the list posted Dec. 31 by the liquor board include retail outlets Heaven Bound 420 Cannabis Boutique, 1734 Central Ave. S.; C & M Management Services, 26212 Pacific Highway S.; Giving Tree, 8504 S. 228th St.; Natures Cure, 701 Washington Ave. N.; Phats Sack Corp., 21040 84th Ave. S.; and Rastafari, 3001 S. 253rd. St.

The recent producer applicants include Indoor Organics, LLC, 14447 S.E. 208th St., and PacNWGreen, 22122 35th Pl. S., Apt. H106. The processor applicants are PacNWGreen and Marijuana and Children Do Not Mix, 12639 SE 213th St.

The state liquor board has closed the application process. The board has yet to set a timeline of when it will start to issue licenses.

Kent city officials remain against medical and recreational marijuana businesses.

"The bottom line is that, given the complete legal separation between recreational marijuana under I-502 and medical marijuana under RCW 69.51A, the submission of an application to the Liquor Control Board does not change the city’s defense of its lawfully enacted ordinance prohibiting collective gardens," said David A. Galazin, assistant city attorney, in a email. "If anything, it highlights the fact that some businesses simply selling marijuana to the general public have previously relied upon a strained interpretation of the collective garden statute to support the fiction that they were legally permissible."

Tsang did not respond to an email from the Kent Reporter for comment about his application.

If Kent applicants receive a recreational marijuana license from the liquor board, the city won't issue them any permits, said Pat Fitzpatrick, acting city attorney. If the business opens anyway, he said the city will take action. The liquor board will issue licenses to applicants even if a city bans recreational marijuana businesses.

The City Council voted 4-3 in November to ban marijuana businesses under a six-month moratorium because the drug remains illegal under federal law. Voters statewide approved the legalization of marijuana in November 2012.

Tsang is one of the plaintiffs in Cannabis Action Coalition vs. the City of Kent. That case remains tied up in the Washington Court of Appeals, Galazin said. The lawsuit challenges the city's ability to employ a zoning ordinance to prohibit medical marijuana collective gardens within all of its zoning districts.

The Court of Appeals has not yet set a date for oral argument, but all briefs have been submitted by both sides for review, Galazin said.

Supreme Court Commissioner Steven Goff granted a temporary stay in December 2012 that lifts the city of Kent's ban on medical marijuana collective gardens as it pertains to Tsang's business. The Supreme Court declined direct review, which led to the case going before the Court of Appeals.

"If the state Legislature seems inclined to follow the Liquor Control Board’s joint recommendation to eliminate collective gardens in the next legislative session, I would not be surprised if the court were to delay the case in the event the issue will become moot; barring that outcome, however, I honestly don’t know if it would move forward on schedule or not," Galazin said.

Kent plans to enforce its ban on recreational marijuana businesses.

"The fact that a corporation run by Deryck Tsang appears to have applied to the (liquor) board for license to sell marijuana does not, in and of itself, have any impact on the Cannabis Action Coalition case," Galazin said. "Even if (Tsang's corporation) were to receive a license, it would be no more able to conduct this kind of activity lawfully in the city of Kent than any other business would be so long as the city’s moratorium is in effect, unless and until the City Council were to adopt permissive zoning regulations."

The liquor board set a limit of how many retail outlets each city may have. Kent's limit is three. The board will use a lottery to determine which of the 11 retail applicants in Kent are selected if all pass the initial requirements to operate a marijuana store.

Liquor board staff will investigate each application before approving a license. An investigator will look at numerous documents including operating plans, floor plans, personal/criminal history statement, fingerprint cards, copy of approved identification, business structure forms, lease information, purchase agreements, financial/source of funds statement, copy of bank statements and/or tax returns and affidavits.

Businesses also must be at least 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds, recreational centers, child care centers, public parks, public transit centers and libraries.

Kent marijuana applicants

(through Dec. 31)

Retail:

• C & M Management Services, 26212 Pacific Highway S.

• Giving Tree, 8504 S. 228th St.

• Hong Mart Smoke Plus, 23635 104th Ave. S.E.

• Heaven Bound 420 Cannabis Boutique, 1734 Central Ave S

• Herbal Choice Caregivers, Inc., 19011 68th Ave. S., Suite A-110

• Natures Cure, 701 Washington Ave. N.

• Odyssey Smoke Shop Inc., 23254 Military Road S.

• Phats Sack Corp., 21040 84th Ave. S.

• Rastafari, 3001 S. 253rd. St.

• Soo P Hong, 228 Washington Ave. S.

• Weedsdom, 7641 S. 259th St., Suite 101

Producer and/or processing:

(Several properties have applied for more than one license)

• A.E. Brown Co's, 23955 58th Ct. S. No. E-3

• Always Greener Distributors, 19042 72nd Ave. S.

• BWIT, 26010 42nd Ave. S.

• Cul-De-Sac Kush, 26810 115th Pl. S.E.

• Hummockville, 8001 S. 194th St.

• Indoor Organics, LLC, 14447 S.E. 208th St.

• Marijuana and Children Do Not Mix, 12639 S.E. 213th St.

• Orchardview West, 8031 S. 194th St.

• Organiccare, 20521 121st Way S.E.

• PacNwGreen 22122 35th Pl. S., Apt. H106

• Spinning Heads, Inc., 11024 S.E. 208th St.

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