Excerpts from letters sent to County Board of Commissioners

Ed & Beatriz Schweitzer, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc

 We remain deeply concerned about the legalization of marijuana, with no regulation. Marijuana and its production, processing, sale, and use are detrimental to individuals, families, businesses, careers, and our community as a whole. Marijuana has no place in making electric power safer, more reliable, and more economical. Nor does it in aviation, medical care, education, or any other productive part of society. We urge you to regulate the production, processing, and sale of marijuana. Thank you for your serious consideration of these critical emerging activities. 

Scott K. Adams, Chief Executive Officer, Pullman Regional Hospital

 I am writing on behalf of Pullman Regional Hospital and the medical community in general. I strongly urge you to immediately establish a moratorium on any marijuana growing and processing facilities being established in Whitman County. Further, I implore you to develop clear and substantive rules and regulations that address the needs of all citizens of the county and not just the special interests of a few, non-resident business developers. Responsible government is duty bound to consider the needs of all parties and not a select few.  

Andre-Denis Wright, Professor and Dean, College of Ag, Human, & Natural Resources Sciences, WSU

Our concern is that the odor compounds that are produced during processing will be released into the air shed and will affect the composition and quality of the milk produced at Knott Dairy. A change in composition could negatively impact WSU's use of the milk produced at Knott Dairy for production of ice cream and cheese at the WSU Creamery (including Cougar Gold). Therefore, at this time we request that you defer your decision on Selway Holdings, LLC's zoning change request for three months.

An additional concern is the use of hydrocarbon solvents as delineated in their zone change application. If there is an accidental spill of the solvents used, then they will seep into the ground water that is the source of water for the dairy cows. We request that appropriate spill prevention mechanisms be required to prevent any opportunity for groundwater contamination.

 Thank you for considering the potential impact the proposed operation’s air emissions may have on animal well-being, milk quality, ice cream and cheese production. 

David Costello, Chief Sales & Customer Services Officer, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc.

 Visitors, SEL customers, and regulators who come to Pullman should feel the warmth of our hospitality, observe a vibrant community, and most importantly leave confident and trusting in the care in which we exercise our critical responsibilities. This is very important to our business. 

Please do all in your power to sensibly regulate and control marijuana producers, processors, and sellers in Whitman County.  

Chris & Kerri Jo Staniszewski, County Residents

 When Washington passed the law to legalize marijuana, I recall the large controversy it caused within the Pullman community. The large effort to control where marijuana could be sold was significant as well as exclusive in relation to schools and childcare facilities. I know I personally received many flyers and the city held meetings to ensure the voices of the community were heard. One major item that did not receive this kind of attention was the impact of marijuana growing facilities and the nuisance they create to those located within their proximity. I personally can speak to this because there is a growing facility located 1/2 mile from our home on Airport Road. We were never given notification from the county that a growing facility was being built in our general proximity. Hindsight being 20/20, if I had known then, what I know now, I would have protested to the Whitman County Commissioners not to allow this establishment so close to residences. When the large fans at the facility are exhausting, the offensive aroma that is put off is quite pungent. I smell it each and every time I drive by, even with my windows rolled up. As I said, we live ½ mile from the Airport Road growing facility, and the odor comes into our yard with each westerly wind. No one should have to smell that at their own residence. I find myself driving to Pullman by way of SR 270 now, just to avoid having to pass this facility. The first 20 years I lived in my home I never took the long way around to get from home to Pullman. Obviously, it is too late to do anything about the marijuana growing operation on Airport Road. No one knew the offensive affects it would have on those living on our road. Moving forward, I would hope that the Whitman County Commissioners are listening to the residents of their county and making decisions based on research and common sense. Whitman County is large, with many unpopulated areas where growing marijuana could occur miles away from residences. I do not understand why the commissioners are even considering allowing a marijuana growing and processing facility on Country Club Road. 

I strongly urge you to listen to those who object having a marijuana growing operation located so close to their homes and the City of Pullman. They have justified concerns that need to be heard. I can verify that each of their reasons are real and validated. Allowing this facility to be located on Country Club Road shows that the Commissioners value their bottom line more than the residents who live within the county. At WSU, I took an environmental science class that discussed NIMBY, Not In My Back Yard. This is a perfect example of this characterization. The City of Pullman and the residents on that side of town, will not want this in their back yard.

Cornelius Michael Murphy, MD

 I am writing as a Commissioner of Whitman County Hospital District 1-A (dab Pullman Regional Hospital) and as an assistant scoutmaster of Troop 460 (Scouts).  I am concerned that if Whitman County has few controls over marijuana grow facilities in our county, we will become the marijuana grow center of Washington State.  This state of affairs will have an impact on our hospital’s ability to recruit new physicians/medical professionals as most of said new recruits are coming right out of training and are looking for a family friendly location to practice and live.

Although the final answer to the question of the ill effects of marijuana on the brains of young children is not yet determined, substantial permanent risk of brain injury is likely, based on animal experiments.  I do not want any child in Whitman County to get the perception that marijuana is fine for him/her to use just because we have so many grow operations in the county.

Please think of our children and establish tight controls over marijuana grow operations in Whitman County.   

County Property Owner

 It has recently come to my attention that Whitman County currently does not have significant rules, ordinances, or regulations set for Marijuana growing, processing, and retailing. I find that odd since a majority of the counties in Washington were quick to do so when I-502 passed. I also find this unacceptable. 

Therefore, with respects, I hope Whitman County does what is right, in my opinion, and implements rules, ordinances, and regulations to prevent Whitman County from becoming synonymous with Marijuana growing and processing. In my opinion, the rolling weed and wheat fields of the Palouse doesn't have the same ring to it. The thought of driving by more facilities (like the one on airport road in Pullman) and the smell it produces makes me cringe. I would hope Whitman County would make it difficult for these facilities to gain a foothold, like many other counties in Washington have already done. 

Ian & Erin Downs, Pullman Residents

 We are writing to the Commissioners today to express that we do not approve of the unrestricted expansion of the marijuana industry in Whitman County. We want Whitman County to stop, make a circumspect examination of this industry, and weigh the real costs – tangible and intangible – of the cannabis industry.

When we moved to Pullman three years ago dozens of people told us it was a great place to raise our kids, and it has been. But we fear that our kids will grow up surrounded by pot shops and cannabis processing facilities. We fear that the unrestricted expansion of this industry will increase crime in our area. This would lead to many more costs for law enforcement and community health. Our low crime rate is one of the beautiful aspects of our county. Let’s not overlook that. Finally, we must say that cannabis normalization is contrary to our values as a family. It’s a point of pride to be able to say the Palouse grows double the wheat per acre than the U.S. average. Three, five, or ten years down the line will we be boasting that Whitman county produces twice as much cannabis than any other county in Washington? We hope not. If that’s the direction Whitman County chooses, we may take our family and our business elsewhere. Stop pushing pot in Pullman and Whitman County! 

Charles L. Mohr, PhD, County Property Owner

  We have been land owners in Whitman County as a family since the 1870's.   Although we currently live in Richland  we have a farm on Stevick Rd and maintain a home  there. We travel the Flat Rd /Country Club Rd quite often on our way to our son's house on Country Club Road from our farm home on Stevick Rd.  We also  drive out by the airport on our way to the E Free church which goes by the Pot processing facility by the airport.

The air quality down wind of the Pot process facility by the airport is very poor.  It really stinks.  

The negative aspects of allowing Pot to come into the County become very apparent when driving by that facility on a hot day in the afternoon.  The folks down wind of that certainly are exposed  to  a significant negative air quality with exposure to pot  processing fumes and air pollution particulates from that facility.

It is time to stop this migration into the county .

Please forward our concerns to the commissioners  and encourage them to put the program  in moratorium until such time as standards for air quality  and engineering design and over site review requirements can be thoroughly vetted and established.  

Joey Nestegard, Chief Business Officer, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc.

 Last evening, as I waited outside of Pullman-Moscow airport for my daughter's plane to land, I could smell the existing marijuana operations in the county due to the breeze from the east. As guests to our area arrive to visit WSU, for a job interview or to do business with companies in our area this unfortunately may be the first thing they experience about the Palouse.

I have recently learned you are considering zoning requests to allow additional marijuana growing operations to operate in Whitman County. As a resident of the county for more than 17 years, I urge you not to make it easier for these operations to expand into our county. Rather I ask you to consider changes to regulate and limit these operations as other counties in Washington have done.

Whitman county is a wonderful place to study, live, work, and raise a family. Please restrict the growing, processing and sale of marijuana to keep it this way.

Eric Newman, Business Operations Director, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc.

I have lived in Whitman County my whole life. The past two years I worked overseas and on returning was shocked by the proliferation of marijuana production, processing, and sales throughout Whitman County without adequate regulation.

Though legal in Washington, marijuana is destructive to the citizens of our state. Marijuana use is not conductive to the wonderful, family environment we enjoy in Whitman County. Its use contributes to further substance abuse and destroys families and communities.

As you consider zoning changes to make it easier for marijuana operations to start in Whitman County, also weigh the negative consequences of those changes. The marijuana industry needs regulation and I urge you to act quickly to protect our citizens.

David Whitehead, Chief Operating Officer, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc.

I have lived, with my family, in Whitman County for nearly 25 years. Whitman County has always been a beautiful and safe place to work and raise a family. This is in part to reasonable and sensible regulations.

Nearly all industries are regulated. As such, I am surprised to learn that in Whitman County there is a lack of sound regulations over the marijuana industry. Further, I am deeply concerned that marijuana producers, processors, and sellers view Whitman County as an ideal location to set up business because of the lack of regulation. This must be addressed quickly.

Benjamin and Sandra Rhoades, County Residents

 We moved to Pullman almost two years ago. My husband is an ER physician and could have worked anywhere in the US. What drew us to Pullman was it’s family friendly community and lack of crime as well as the local university. I assure you if we had heard it was a Mecca for cannibus growers, my husband wouldn’t have even bothered with a phone interview and we would have looked elsewhere for employment. Jordan Zager, the owner of Selway Holdings, is quoted in a  recent article stating that he hoped Pullman would become a Mecca for marijuana. 

What kind of individuals would you like the city to draw? Research has shown that the legalization of marijuana has caused an increased level of crime. I spoke to a local police officer recently and he has echoed that statement. 

Please consider your local residents and adopt the mantra of a good neighbor. Regulations need to be placed in our county. As Whitman county is one of the most lax in the state of regulating the growth and processing of marijuana, we in the community have been let down.

I implore you to exert yourself in looking out for the people you represent and imposing regulations to protect the members of your community. 

Jana Schultheis Vice President Property Management SchweitzerEngineering Laboratories,Inc.

 Our family homesteaded in Whitman County in April 1875. It has been each generation’s responsibility to be strong community advocates, responsible land owners and productive citizens. 

Your commission is very similar. Over the years you’ve been charged to preserve the land to what you deem is in the best interest for all concerned. You’ve made tough decisions to regulate our ability to use our agriculture, homestead, canyon and hill top ground. You’ve not bent to special interest or popular opinion. I didn’t always agree with decisions as it limited my rights as a land owner. I like to think that owners’ rights & taxes paid should allow personal freedom – but I’ve grown to appreciate that isn’t always the case. 

Nearly all industries are regulated. As such, I am disappointed to learn that in Whitman County lackssound regulations pertaining to marijuana. Further, I am deeply concerned that marijuana producers, processors, and sellers view Whitman County as an ideal location to set up business because of the lack ofregulation. This must be addressed quickly. 

Please wisely use the moratorium to set in place sensible regulations over marijuana producers, processors, and sellers in Whitman County that include, as a minimum, preservation of a safe, beautiful, productive place to work and raise a family for the following generations. 

Anne Brown, County Resident

  I would like to add a voice of concern to the discussion surrounding marijuana growing and processing in Whitman County. ANY business moving in to a community should seek to be a good neighbor, addressing issues related to harming the people who live there. While I applaud efforts to make Whitman County attractive to growing businesses, I worry that businesses who are attracted to our county due to a lack of regulation aren't going to be good neighbors. To put it bluntly, if they're coming here because we're allowing them to dump chemicals into our water and air, make parts of our cities unlivable (lights, smells, etc.), and promote controlled substances near children then we are better off without them. 

I am especially concerned about water and air quality. Here are some examples (specific to growing) from one of Washington State's reports:


 Lighting materials used in indoor cannabis cultivation have environmental risks if not properly managed for disposal. High-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs cost about $5 each to recycle, so they present an incentive for improper (illegal) disposal. Each bulb contains approximately 30 mg of mercury and other toxins. Mercury is a neurotoxin, and is recognized as extremely toxic, particularly in gaseous form. The Okanogan Cannabis Association estimates that indoor cultivation of cannabis could produce 46,000 HID bulbs each year in Washington (Moberg and Mazzetti 2013). 

Growing water is not only lost through evapotranspiration in a warm growing room, but also becomes contaminated with algae and otherwise and needs occasional replacement. It is high in nitrogen and phosphorus and if disposed in storm drains when it contributes to water body eutrophication; in sewers it imposes an additional treatment load. 

Water use and fertilizer runoff to streams or groundwater is also a concern for outdoor cultivation as for any crop.

I am aware that processing marijuana also requires a number of chemical processes with their own potential environmental impacts. It only makes sense to regulate what businesses in our community do with our resources and their waste and require them to pay for enforcement of these regulations. I hope Whitman County will do the right thing.

Wil Edwards PharmD, County Resident

 My name is Wil Edwards and I support Whitman County putting a moratorium on marijuana farms. I am a resident of Whitman County, outside of Palouse and even though this marijuana farm is not next to my family, I feel that I must offer my support to the regulation of this drug and it's production. I am a pharmacist and also a firefighter, my wife a veterinarian, both very involved in our fields and community. 

We know that you have received a lot of feed back from other medical professionals, law enforcement, and concerned citizens about the dangers of bringing the production of marijuana to Whitman County. I would like to take a different angle on this issue. 

Imagine an established community, outside of Pullman, about 30 residents that includes children. A farmer decides to buy some land, have it re-zoned and start a pig farm. Would the farmer be able to start a pig farm while staying legal to RCW 70.94?

Now, lets assume that it's a marijuana farm/processing plant. Would they be able to start this farm based on RCW 70.94 (WASHINGTON CLEAN AIR ACT)? What about RCW 70.94.640 (Odors or fugitive dust caused by agricultural activities consistent with good agricultural practices exempt from chapter)? Can we be a 100% sure surrounding Whitman County citizens will be safe? 

Lawrence & Karen Ortlieb, Pullman Residents

 My wife and I recently moved to Pullman from Marrowstone Island on the Olympic Peninsula. Marrowstone is a small island yet there was a plan to have a marijuana grow operation located there. It was zoned residential but with the help of the county people, they had approved the operation. They passed it as a cottage industry, meaning the owner would've had to live on the premises which he didn't want to do. That's when the community got together and fought to stop it. They were going to put their opertain straight into the ground. Many people still used their wells for water, yet the county and Dept. of Ecology people said it was OK, it was NOT OK as their fertilizers and pesticides would leech into the ground water then eventually to the aquifer which could pose serious threats. They also wanted to use huge fans which would've exceeded the allowable amount of decibels. To power all their fans, they would've needed much more electricity (1000 amp service) than a normal household. Also, they wanted to use propane heaters to create carbon dioxide which posed a threat if something was to go wrong and create a fire in a heavily wooded area, which could've been disastrous to the community. As a result of going through this process already, I DO NOT favor a grow operation for Pullman and think it would also have an effect on the cattle operation so close to it.  

Brooke Cohen, Pullman Resident

  I understand the Whitman County Commissioners are holding a workshop this morning to explore a temporary moratorium on producer/processor licenses until basic regulations have been developed. I think a moratorium is a wise choice. 

My concern is for my fellow community members on Country Club Road, just outside Pullman city limits, who will be affected by the proposed operation of Selway Holdings, LLC.  I wouldn’t want a marijuana operation as my neighbor because of the complaints of the noxious smell from current producer/processor neighbors in the area. I believe it would reduce property values. 

I own and live in a home in a neighborhood off of Davis Way, just inside the city limits, adjacent to a wheat field outside the city limits. At this time, that field would be a viable option for a marijuana producer/processor. My family moved to Pullman eight years ago, and plan to be here for the long term. However, a move across the state border would be tempting if this community becomes a center for cannabis agriculture. 

I regret I am unable to attend the workshop because I need to be at work. Please consider this letter as another body in the room in favor of a temporary moratorium until county rules/regulations can be made to protect its homeowners. 

Bill Richardson, Senior Pastor, Evangelical Free Church of the Palouse

We firmly believe that marijuana and its production has a detrimental effect on family and community life. As a pastor, I have seen first hand the devastating effects of family breakdown caused by marijuana. Marijuana is a gateway drug which leads into much more serious drug use and addiction. I have worked with drug addicts for over 9 years, and many of them are no longer here as they have either died from overdose or violence. The majority of these addicts started on marijuana. Where there is an increase in marijuana use, there is also an increase in harder drug us e.g. meth and heroin. This will lead to more theft to pay for addiction and make Pullman a less safe area to live.

As elders we are also concerned for the health of our community in connection with the air emissions associated with marijuana growing and processing. We recommend that the commissioners investigate the research carried out by Dr. Thomas Jobson, WSU Laboratory for Atmospheric  Research. His research measured odor compounds at marijuana growing and processing businesses for the Spokane Air District. For further reading on the subject, there is an excellent book by Alex Berenson, Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence.

We strongly request that the commissioners reject the Selway Holdings LLC zone change application because of the danger to health, safety and welfare of the people of Pullman. Further, we also request a moratorium be placed on all new grow, processing, and retail facilities while we have a community discussion about ordinances and rules that will protect the people in our community. Lastly, we request that Whitman County objects to the transfer of the Alto Buddha grow and processing licenses, currently in Chelan County, to our county.

Janet Limburg, Pullman Resident

  I do not want any more marijuana facilities in this county and I want my voice heard....Why do we have to have all the DRUGS in our county......Are we not thinking of our Children, students and old people that breath the air here also....You are being way out of line to think this is a good thing...Do your research and then see if you can sleep at night by letting this marijuana facility build in this county...
 I have been a Pullman resident for 60 years and raised 5 healthy children here and want my grandchildren the same privilege...with NO more marijuana facilities or shops....STOP and think about what you are doing........don't just think of yourself and the money....Life is too short!   Do the right thing...


Lonna Heuett, Pullman Resident

  Many years ago, smoking cigarettes was a common thing. I remember going to my family doctor to have my physical while he smoked a pipe. Now, years later, we know the health risks of smoking and the damage that cigarettes and tobacco can do, not only to those who choose to smoke but also to those who breathe the unwanted smoke. We also know the irreversible effects smokeless tobacco has on their users, and the damage it can do to a person's jaw after years of use. Millennials find it hard to believe that smoking was taken so casually and accepted so widely 40 years ago when today we know the consequences that result from prolonged tobacco use. It has been determined that the tobacco companies promoted this unhealthy lifestyle because of their greed and the love of money.  Today, many restaurants, bars, stores and medical facilities have banned smoking because, years later, we know how dangerous tobacco use can be.

Now the up and coming thing is marijuana and it seems like Pullman has become a magnet to pot shops and marijuana processors alike. The business owners, and pot dealers have little regard for the repercussions of it's use and their motivating factor to promote their pot shops and marijuana facilities is greed, just like the big tobacco companies that preceded them. We know the effect marijuana has on the human brain and we know it's addictive forces. Those who don't support the use of leisurely marijuana are forced to breathe it's stench and deal with the altered minds that use it.  Just like the tobacco giants mentality years ago that promoted their addictive and health altering drug, the marijuana shops proclaim their rights to hook the public and feel entitled to use our county for their testing ground when we know the risks are substantial. It's time that the residents of Pullman take a stand and tell the County commissioners NO MORE!  Our town has become inundated with pot shops and marijuana facilities. According to weedmaps.com there are already 5 pot shops in Pullman. We are setting a precedence here that needs to be stopped. No one wants more marijuana in Pullman except those who sell it. The chamber of commerce touts Pullman as a family friendly place to raise your children in a wholesome environment with a low crime rate and we don't want the continual promotion of marijuana changing that. Let us breathe the fresh palouse air. Let us keep Pullman a great place to live. And let the Marijuana dealers and processors find another place to deal their drug of choice. Whose to say years from now, the new generation will wonder why marijuana was taken so casually and accepted so widely because they will know then how dangerous marijuana use can be. Please do the right thing. Enough is enough. Keep the Marijuana Lords away from Whitman county. Don't give in to their rhetoric and lies.