Snohomish County Council Says NOPE to R5 Zone Pot Farms

By Shawn DeNae

WASHINGTON: I am so disgusted, I could spit!  Snohomish County Council has voted to implement a permanent ban on legal cannabis operations on a majority of the previously available farm land in the county, the R5 Zone.

The members of the R5 Cooperative were blind-sided by the reversal from Chair Dave Somers who has feigned support of establishing standards to allow the use on some R5 properties.  Somers supposedly justifies his actions as helpful toward his bid for County Executive; apparently the NIMBY group has promised voter support.  Nice sell out, Mr. Somers.

The vocal minority represented by righteous members of No Operational Pot Enterprises has won the 7 month battle and vow to continue their war against legal weed by picketing licensed operators already established within R5.  They do not seem concerned about the 2000 or so unregulated ‘black market’ growers the County Sheriff, Pat Slack, estimates are in the same areas.

What is so frustratingly ironic, is that by squashing the opportunity for unregulated grows to move into a regulated and taxed system, the NOPE efforts are only fostering continuation of the black market!  It’s a classic case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

One major justification their leader, Dean Kepler, stated to King 5 is an overwhelming fear of loss in property values.  This has no basis and is in fact disputed with fact.  A search of zip codes heavy with R5 properties reveals that since the opening of R5 for legal grows until the temporary ban (Nov 2013 – Oct. 2014),  values have risen an average of 14.73%.  Compare this to highly desirable property in N. Seattle at 3% over the same time period and it appears the industry has helped to raise property values in these typically slow growth areas.

Zip Code / Area

Oct. ’13 – ’14
Median Sales Price
Year over Year
98223 / Arlington +5.9%
98252 / Granite Falls +32.5%
98290 / Snohomish +5.5%
98294 / Sultan +2.7%
98251 / Gold Bar +23.3%
98272 / Monroe +18.5%
6 Area Average +14.73%


The council did clarify that AG-10 land and Rural Industrial (RI) will remain open for producer/processors. This sounds good!  However, there is a pittance of RI zoned land and the vast majority of AG-10 zoned land is in flood plain which brings in a whole new set of road blocks; the main one that no commercial buildings can be built on flood plain land and the planning department code requires that processing buildings or indoor grows must meet IBC codes for commercial factory standards (F1 occupancy).  What this decision does for Snohomish County is set them up for a piece of the sin tax pie.  This ban on R5, while keeping open AG-10 and Rural Industrial, is a full ban in sheep’s clothing to hood wink the State into giving the County a slice while not allowing the industry to set up shop in any meaningful way.

The R5 Cooperative worked really hard to educate the Council with facts in the hopes to counter balance the fear based rhetoric.  We believed that communication vs litigation was the best path.  Now we see that the future personal political gain of Mr. Somers has taken president over the 100’s of hours that were invested to prevent this outcome.  I hope the county has deep pockets to fight all the lawsuits that are now sure to come.

For background on this story see previous article at Marijuana Venture Magazine. 

Read the Everett Herald article on the decision here: