Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Petition of Kittitas County

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 3

April 11, 2019

In the Matter of the Petition of: KITTITAS COUNTY for a Declaratory Order.
v.
WASHINGTON STATE LIQUOR AND CANNABIS BOARD, Appellant. KITTITAS COUNTY, Respondent,

          Pennell, A.C.J.

         This case asks whether Washington's Growth Management Act (GMA), chapter 36.70A RCW, requires the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (the Board) to defer to local zoning laws when making licensing decisions. Our answer is no. Neither the GMA nor the State's marijuana licensing laws require the Board to issue licenses in conformity with local zoning laws. While the Board may consider zoning restrictions in making licensing decisions, doing so is not required under current law.

         BACKGROUND

         Washington voters legalized the sale and use of recreational marijuana in 2012. Initiative 502, Laws of 2013, ch. 3. The new law created a legal marketplace for marijuana and delegated licensing, regulatory, and oversight powers to the Board. RCW 69.50.325, .331. Under the law, marijuana producers, processors, and retailers must operate under Board-approved licenses. RCW 69.50.325. Board licenses are site-specific, meaning they are valid only if used at the location approved by the Board in a license application. Id.

         In December 2015, Kittitas County (the County) notified the Board of its objection to a license application for a marijuana producer/processor operation. The objection was based solely on the location of the operation.[1] Marijuana production and processing is permitted in the county only "in certain land use zoning designations" and "under strict conditions." Clerk's Papers (CP) at 31; see also Report of Proceedings (RP) (Dec. 22, 2017) at 6-7.

         The Board granted the license over the County's objection. In correspondence to the County, the Board indicated that it could not base its denial of an application on local zoning laws.

         In February 2017, the County petitioned the Board under RCW 34.05.240 for a declaratory order. The County argued the site-specific nature of marijuana licenses means that licensing decisions are subject to local zoning regulations.

         In May 2017, the Board rendered a decision on the County's petition after issuing a notice of proceedings and receiving input from numerous cities and counties. Although the County's position garnered significant support from various municipalities and county governments, the Board determined that neither the marijuana licensing statute nor the GMA required its adherence to "all local zoning laws and land use ordinances prior to granting a license." Id. at 235.

         The County successfully appealed the Board's decision to the Kittitas County Superior Court. In reversing the Board's decision, the superior court ordered the Board to "only approve those licenses which are in compliance with local zoning." Id. at 330; see also RP (Dec. 22, 2017) at 38.

         The Board brings this appeal seeking reversal of the superior court's order.

         ANALYSIS

         The Board's appeal comes to us via the Administrative Procedure Act, chapter 34.05 RCW. In this context, we review the Board's decision, not that of the superior court. Goldsmith v. Dep't of Social & Health Servs., 169 Wn.App. 573, 583-84, 280 P.3d 1173 (2012). Because the Board's decision here turns on statutory interpretation, our review is de novo. State v. Evans, 177 Wn.2d 186, 191, 298 P.3d 724 (2013). We begin with the statute's plain language, and end our analysis there if the text is unambiguous. Id. at 192. In addition, if a statute has been interpreted by state agencies with relevant administrative expertise, we will give that agency's legal interpretation substantial weight. Verizon Nw., Inc. v. Emp't Sec. Dep't, 164 Wn.2d 909, 915, 194 P.3d 255 (2008).

         Marijuana licenses and the GMA

         According to the County, the GMA requires the Board to deny marijuana licenses to marijuana producers, processors, and retailers whose site locations are in areas with local zoning ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.