The Columbian / Associated Press

Sticky’s pot shop owner to pay county $112,500

Emerald Enterprises, the owner of now-closed Sticky’s Pot Shop, has reached an agreement to pay fines stemming from defying Clark County’s ban on recreational marijuana retailing in unincorporated parts of the county.

Sticky’s owner John Larson must pay a civil penalty of $112,500 to the county under the stipulated judgment filed in Clark County Superior Court.

Emerald Enterprises had already paid a $205,000 penalty in 2017 in compliance with a series of judicial rulings that found the company in violation of the county’s prohibition. The agreement filed March 1 now calls for $112,500 of that to be paid to the county and $92,500 to be returned to Larson.

Larson did not respond by press time to an email seeking comment.

The agreement comes as the county may be reconsidering its ban.

Sticky’s, 9411 N.E. Highway 99, closed last July. Emerald Enterprises, which owns Sticky’s, first tried to operate a marijuana shop in Hazel Dell in 2014.

Washington voters legalized the sale of recreational marijuana in 2012 with the passage of Initiative 502, and Clark County has had a ban in place since that time. Whether local governments can continue to ban the sale in their jurisdictions was not made clear, but it had been the opinion of lawmakers, law enforcement officials and now the courts that it was within local officials’ power to impose bans.

Because marijuana retail outlets are not permitted under Clark County’s development code, the county issued two orders to Emerald Enterprises to stop marijuana sales. The county hearing examiner affirmed the orders in March 2016, assessed a $1,500 civil penalty and ordered that a penalty of $500 a day would accrue until Sticky’s owners complied.

A Clark County Superior Court judge affirmed the hearing examiner’s decision in August 2016. The court stopped enforcement of the fines after Emerald Enterprises posted a $105,000 bond. That was increased to $205,000 in June 2017.

Talks between Emerald Enterprises and the county about how that total should be dispersed, following the closure of Sticky’s, unfolded since July.

Sticky’s closed after the state Supreme Court declined to hear a case led by the embattled marijuana retailer that would have lifted the ban on recreational marijuana sales in unincorporated Clark County. The court’s decision affirmed a Washington Court of Appeals, Division II, ruling upholding the ban.

Meanwhile, the Clark County Council will likely discuss repealing its ban against recreational marijuana sales at an April 3 workshop.

“I’m not in favor of it, but we have three councilors who would like to start looking at that possibility,” Clark County Council Chair Eileen Quiring said Friday.

Quiring said Councilors John Blom, Temple Lentz and Julie Olson were at least in favor of opening a discussion about lifting the ban.

The council discussed the ban at a nearly 2 1/2 -hour special work session in May, the second of two work sessions the council held last year on the topic. Since then, two councilors have left: Jeanne Stewart, who was opposed to lifting the ban, and former Council Chair Marc Boldt, who had been open to lifting the ban but later reversed his position.

Quiring said she was opposed to lifting the ban because she believes any revenue gains for the county would be more than offset by added law enforcement and social services expenses.