West Seattle has no state-licensed marijuana stores yet, but when it does, these new rules might govern where they can go. Here’s the announcement today from the mayor’s office:
Mayor Ed Murray today proposed new rules to accommodate the expected increased number of state licensed retail marijuana stores in Seattle. The proposal would adjust land use rules to allow the siting of state-licensed stores more equitably and fairly throughout Seattle while also limiting the possibility of clustering retail stores on a single city block.
“We must ensure there is an even distribution of stores so they are not unfairly concentrated in economically-distressed neighborhoods and so that cannabis is accessible to medical patients throughout the city. This proposal balances both goals by giving retail owners a little more flexibility in where they can operate and creates new rules to require equitable dispersion of these stores throughout Seattle.”
Under Murray’s proposal, the 1,000-foot restriction from playgrounds and schools would remain in effect while restrictions for all other public amenities would be reduced to 500 feet (approximately 1-2 city blocks). The new rule would establish an additional 1,650 acres for retail locations to be sited in Seattle. To prevent multiple stores from locating on the same block, the proposal creates a new minimum distance between marijuana retail stores of 500 feet.
Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed legislation that placed medical and retail marijuana under the same regulatory umbrella, paving the way for significantly more state licenses to be issued and giving local jurisdictions authority to determine the best way for a community to meet the growing demand for suitable real estate for marijuana stores.
“If the state is allowing more stores, then the City should make sure they’re legal and well regulated,” said Willie Hodge, a small business owner in Columbia City. “I appreciate the Mayor’s efforts to make sure that not one street or neighborhood is overburdened and that these businesses are opened throughout the city.”
Today’s proposal follows earlier City legislation proposed by Murray and unanimously approved by the City Council that gave the City the authority to create a regulatory path medical marijuana dispensaries to join the state regulated retail market and close unregulated dispensaries or those operating as bad actors. Since that City ordinance was enacted, 59 dispensaries have voluntarily closed due to their being out of compliance and approximately 49 dispensaries have remained open and have an opportunity to obtain a state license early next year.
The State Liquor and Cannabis Board is currently reviewing nearly 200 new applications for retail marijuana licenses in Seattle. Today, 19 retail recreational stores are operating in the city. Full text of the legislation can be found here.
There will be a public symposium in the Bertha Knight Landis Room at City Hall on Tuesday, November 17th beginning at 5:30 regarding medical marijuana reform, the implementation of the marijuana regulatory business licenses, and further details regarding the Mayor’s land use proposal.