Woodland marijuana decisions draw near

Business applicants eye vote on moratorium

By Justin Runquist, Columbian small cities reporter

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Two Clark County men hope to begin cultivating recreational marijuana in Woodland as early as June if the city decides to end its ban on marijuana-related operations.

Luigi Cartasegna, 34, is ready to finalize a lease agreement on a 5,000-square-foot building in Woodland, where he plans to run his new venture, Domenico Farms. Cartasegna and his 61-year-old business partner, Jonathan Schultz, applied for a license to grow and process marijuana in the city last month.

As they wait for the state Liquor Control Board to approve or reject their bid at breaking into the state’s budding new industry, they must also wait for the Woodland City Council to vote on its moratorium. The temporary ban expires this spring, and councilors will discuss their options at a special meeting next Monday, April 14, where they may also cast a vote on the matter.

Both the moratorium and Cartasegna’s application came up at the councilors’ meeting tonight, but council members weren’t ready to make any decisions.

“It’s kind of a waiting game,” Cartasegna said. “I can’t get the license until I occupy that building and it’s ready to go, and I don’t want to occupy that building if there’s still a moratorium.”

The Liquor Control Board gives cities a chance to weigh in before taking action on applications to grow and process marijuana. But it’s unclear what the councilors will do in this case, as confusion lingers about the new law and whether the community wants recreational marijuana operations in the city.

Voters passed Initiative 502 in the November 2012 election, legalizing recreational marijuana. Since then, the state has received more than 2,100 retail applications, but several hundred of the applicants haven’t responded to requests from the state for basic information.

The Liquor Control Board capped the number of pot shops throughout the state at 334, and sales could begin as early as July. In comparison, there is no limit on how many licenses will be issued for marijuana growers and processers, and grow operations need to start a few months before the products will be ready to sell.

Cartasegna grew up with a family of farmers in Ridgefield, and he’s always wanted to have his own farm. His family has grown corn, tomatoes, onions and other vegetables, and Cartasegna said he’s always found farming a rewarding way of life.

“I’ve just always enjoyed growing things,” he said. “You just try to produce the best crop you can.”

Cartasegna said he has long been a supporter of recreational marijuana, though never expected he may have the chance to grow it for a living.

“This opportunity came up, and I was like, ‘Oh, OK. That could be fun,’” he said.

If he gets the go-ahead to move forward with his new business, Cartasegna said he’ll keep it simple. At this point, he has no plans to produce edibles, oils or any other marijuana extracts.