YAKIMA, WA - In exactly one month marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas of Yakima will have to either close up shop or move, but will they?
"The county commissioners, all they are doing is making what they consider a problem into somebody else's bigger problem," said Jamie Muffett, CEO of Sticky Budz.
23 marijuana businesses received a cease and desist order from the county.
"This is big business and the county is interfering with business," said Elizabeth Hallock, owner of Sweet Relief.
When looking at the impacts of closing or even moving Muffett says it will hurt more than just his business. He says it will also hurt his buyers who are smoke shops like Sweet Relief, which will then become a problem for consumers.
"We get about 10% of our gross sales from local Yakima County growers, 10-20%, 10% will be shutdown so in order for me to replace those products I need to truck it in from the Seattle area. It takes longer, it is not environmentally sustainable at all," said Hallock.
"Yakima or even down to the Tri-Cities area right, you got up to about 10 to 12 stores that we all sell to, and that feed off the farmer that's in Yakima County," said Muffett.
All businesses that received the notice are growers and processors like Sticky Budz.
From the beginning Yakima County never wanted marijuana business in certain areas and that's why they created zoning laws.
Regardless, businesses opened up with the permission of the state and the Liquor Control Board.
Now, these zoning laws could be changed but Yakima County does not plan on doing that anytime soon.
"Yes, the county code could be amended to allow that to happen, but at this point all three commissioners are of like mind that they don't wish to modify or amend the county code," said Don Anderson, Chief Civil Deputy for Yakima County.
The cease and desist order says the county will hold off until March 1st to take any legal actions.
"March really doesn't mean a whole lots to us, and it really doesn't mean a whole lot to the other farmers," said Muffett.
In regards to the number of people who will lose their jobs Anderson says commissioners have not looked into that.
"The fact remains that the businesses never should of opened in those zones, and, so the fact that those people might be displaced is not counties fault," said Anderson.
Muffett and Hallock say Yakima has the potential to benefit from the marijuana business given the quality of the product grown, so they don't understand why commissioners don't want to value it.
"If you look at industries like the wine and the beer industry, you know all the hops are grown locally. That's a source of pride for Yakima I don't understand why it's not a source of pride for Yakima to grow sustainable products," said Hallock.
In response to that Anderson says, "The difference is those other crops are agricultural uses. Marijuana under the state laws is an industrial use."