Council to discuss options for marijuana production on Dec. 3

San Juan County prides itself on being unique. Two examples of its anomalous regulations regard its treatment of vacation rentals, and marijuana production. Vacation rentals, a commercial activity, are regulated as being a residential use. Growing marijuana is by San Juan County's definition not an agricultural activity. 

While residents have asked the county to place a moratorium on vacation rentals so the impact can be studied and new regulations considered, the Council has so far refused. LINK TO PETITION

However, negative reaction by residents to plans for a marijuana production facility on Lopez Island has resulted in a moratorium to give San Juan County government time to come up with new regulations. A similar situation on San Juan Island several years ago resulted in a work group tasked with producing regulations. That effort fizzled out after the marijuana farm fell foul of a private road easement and ceased operations. 

The draft timeline for the current effort to determine the rules and regulations for marijuana production and processing is as follows: 

September 24, 2019: County Council holds public hearing on a resolution to extend Resolution No. 15- 2019 for one year and adopt a code development work plan

October 2019 - January 2020: Research ways to implement Council’s intended outcomes Touch base with Council on specific questions/strategies Draft ordinance to regulate marijuana production and processing

February 2020: Preliminary legal review Brief County Council and the public on the preliminary draft ordinance Incorporate preliminary feedback into the draft ordinance Develop presentation for Planning Commission

March 2020: Brief Planning Commission

April - June 2020: Incorporate the Planning Commission’s recommendations into the draft ordinance Address any legal issues Issue a SEPA determination Submit a 60-day Notice of intent to adopt regulations to WA Dept. of Commerce Staff the Planning Commission public hearing and deliberations

July 2020: Brief Council on the Planning Commission’s recommendation August 2020 Council holds a public hearing

September 2020: Council Considers public input and deliberates on the draft ordinance DCD incorporates Council’s comments into the draft ordinance Final legal review

October 2020: Council adopts a code amendment ordinance Publish a notice of adoption

A staff report for the December 3, 2019 San Juan County Council meeting includes two options. The entire 44-page staff report can be read here


This option is similar to the Skagit County regulatory strategy that prohibits outdoor production and processing in greenhouses or translucent structures. It would restrict indoor marijuana production and processing in Activity Centers to commercial and industrial land use designations. It would allow indoor marijuana production in some rural land use designations including Rural General Use, Rural Industrial, Rural Commercial, and Island Center.

In Eastsound, indoor production and production and processing would be allowed in Service Light Industrial, Service Park, and Country Corner Commercial.

Staff recommends Option 1 because it would prevent most rural neighborhood issues with odor, security systems, lights, fencing aesthetics, noise, rural character, rural water use, access and use of private roads, reduction in property value, and interference with agriculture and soils. It seems like a suitable response to community concerns including protection of rural character.


Outdoor marijuana production and processing,

Marijuana production and processing in greenhouses and translucent structures.


Indoor marijuana production and processing in most commercial and industrial land use designations. WAC 314-55-075(1)(b) requires indoor marijuana production and processing to take place within a fully enclosed, secure indoor facility or with rigid walls, a roof, and doors.


This option requires more analysis. It would allow some production and processing in various land use designations, but would still restrict it from primarily residential areas. The tiers of production are limited. It allows it production and processing indoors or outdoors in the Ag Resource and Rural farm Forest designations with a minimum lot size per Tiers I and 2. Also, if this is allowed in AG Resource, should it be limited to permanent structures?

Option 2 is the same as Option 1 for Activity Center designations. In Eastsound a conditional use permit is proposed for outdoor production in the Service Light Industrial and Country Corner Commercial designations because they are compact areas of development with residential uses nearby.


Outdoor and indoor marijuana production and processing in some commercial and industrial land use designations with specific lot size requirements and permit requirements.

Outdoor production in AG Resource for marijuana production Tier 1 and Tier 2 thresholds.

Marijuana production in greenhouses for Tier 1 and Tier 2 production to limit the impacts on Ag Resource lands.

Prohibit outdoor marijuana production and associated processing in:

Activity Centers because the densities in activity centers increase potential impacts on neighboring properties. Staff recommends indoors use only in industrial designations. Commercial uses almost entirely include exchange of funds for goods or services, and, shopping appears to be a primary characteristic of areas with commercial designations.

All primarily residential designations (Rural Residential, Rural Farm Forest, Village Residential, Hamlet Residential, ES Residential, etc.), and Conservancy, Natural and Forestry designations.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

back to top