Petersburg Pilot -

Marijuana committee takes a closer look at borough-run store

 


The possibility of a borough-run marijuana store was once again broached during the Local Marijuana Regulation Advisory Committee’s second meeting as a whole group Wednesday evening.

Dr. James Baker, a retired chiropractic physician with medical marijuana grow operations in Washington, presented a plan to the seven members in attendance at assembly chambers.

“Think bold, not old,” he said. “There’s a lot of stigmas and misconceptions about marijuana.”

Petersburg is looking at about $1 million in state budget cuts. Baker said a borough owned marijuana store could be a solution to making up that loss.

He proposed Petersburg go through a Public Development Authority that could get the license to grow and sell while the borough collects taxes.

Baker suggested selling the marijuana at a base price of $225 an ounce, with $25 per ounce going toward borough taxes and $50 per ounce going to the state.

He also recommended Petersburg stay away from edibles, extracts and other related products, which is what the public safety subcommittee was leaning toward.

“Keep it simple,” he said. “Just sell the best product you can and it will help you get some revenue into the borough, make up for some budget cuts.”

And using factors such as the lighting, fans and containers that would be needed, he presented $50,000 as an estimated startup cost. He also suggested the baler facility as a potential grow and sell site as it’s not used much. He added that it could be moved off to the side.

The $50,000 would not include salaries for staff, however.

Baker also brought up starting a lab analysis facility here to ensure a good product and make more money.

It was North Bonneville, Wash. that opened the first government run cannabis shop. In a town with a population of 1,025, it’s receiving about 60 customers a day.

In Petersburg, Baker said five to 15 customers a day could generate an annual revenue of $432,000 to $1.4 million.

If it became big enough of an industry, he said the product could be trademarked and shipped elsewhere when marijuana is legalized federally.

Committee Chair Jeigh Stanton Gregor asked Baker if he believed it would become legal soon. Baker answered that it’s only a matter of time, maybe a couple of years, with 32 states offering marijuana in some sort of medical form.

Committee member Rick Dormer asked about the hurdles North Bonneville faced. Baker, who toured the store and spoke with North Bonneville Mayor Don Stevens, said it was working with locals and discussing taxes with the state.

He also noted that Petersburg would likely only have room for one shop. Some committee members have already expressed concerns about not giving private owners equal opportunity.

The rest of the meeting was spent rehashing subcommittee discussions, such as public safety’s suggestion to keep retail operations at least a mile outside of downtown.

At this point, Stanton Gregor said it’s really best to wait on the state to make its suggestions for recreational marijuana.

The committee plans to meet again Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. in assembly chambers, after the state is supposed to make a final ruling.

 

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