Professor applies to produce marijuana


By Jane Martin, Editor-in-Chief

EWU history professor William Youngs has applied for a city licence to produce and process marijuana in a new business located in Cheney’s Industrial and Commerce Park.

In December, Youngs applied to use land in the city’s Industrial and Commerce Park as the site for recreational marijuana production and processing through his operation, Cheney Hydroponics. Youngs said the building he proposed was approved by a hearing examiner following a recommendation from the city, but there are still many details to work out.

According to Youngs, he has never smoked marijuana because it was illegal before Washington voters passed the 2012 initiative.

Youngs said he plans to run Cheney Hydroponics as a family business with his son, brother and nephew. His nephew has had experience producing medical cannabis in Ontario, Canada, and will most likely become the manager of the business.

“I would hopefully be spending relatively little time on it,” Youngs said.

Youngs said he also realizes that he can provide employment to Eastern students through his new business if he is approved.

“As an EWU history professor, I am aware of student employment needs, and I like to think well-paid half-time jobs at our business would be ideal for students,” Youngs said.

“On the ethical side — in terms of students,” said Youngs, “my impression as a teacher is that often what a student needs is not a full-time job that gets in the way of education.”

The Cheney City Council met on Jan. 14 to discuss the conditional use permits application by Cheney Hydroponics for marijuana production and processing. They also heard the views of Youngs and other Cheney residents on producing and processing cannabis within the city limits.

According to an article in the Jan. 16 issue of the Cheney Free Press, some residents believe that marijuana ruins lives and should not be a business in Cheney, while others think it is better that marijuana come from a regulated business rather than off the street.

Commander Richard Campbell of the Cheney Police Department would like to remind students that they must be 21 years of age in order to have marijuana and “the university is still a zero tolerance zone.”

The federal government is waiting to see how the state decides to regulate the sale and use of marijuana, and so far it has no plans to intervene, Campbell said. However, there is still, “a potential for federal involvement.”

The Cheney City Council held a special meeting Jan. 27 to discuss options for amending the current city ordinance governing zoning and land use for the production, processing and sale of marijuana. According to attorney Stanley Schwartz, that ordinance allows conditional permits for producers to locate in the light industrial and business district zones, and a maximum of two marijuana retailers within Cheney city limits, which may be located in general commercial zones.

According to the meeting agenda, three options facing the council include: taking no action and leaving the current ordinance in place, modifying the existing ordinance, or repealing the existing ordinance and issuing a moratorium, which would freeze current applications for land development for marijuana production and retail, and give the council an extended period to draft an entirely new ordinance.

If the council votes in favor of a moratorium, it would have six months to come up with an ordinance to replace the current one. However, if the council provides the state with a work plan, the moratorium could last as long as a year.