City drafting local rules for legal marijuana business
EVERETT - As the state readies itself to license marijuana producers and retailers, Everett is exploring zoning restrictions that go beyond state rules.
Everett’s yet-to-be-drafted regulations could largely prevent neighborhood mom-and-pop stores from selling marijuana, and limit how close marijuana retailers can be from neighborhoods. The potential rules would also require a buffer between retail shops so they can’t cluster together.
State law already prohibits marijuana retailers from within 1,000 feet of schools, day care facilities, libraries and other places children may be present. The state’s rules appear to already block out most of north Everett and many areas in south Everett, according to a city map showing state buffers.
City attorney Colin Olivers said last week that the state’s zoning code could allow one or two retail shops on north Broadway and a few shops on Evergreen Way. Marijuana producers, meanwhile, may be restricted to industrial or agricultural land.
The city released maps on its website last week that show how state rules restrict where marijuana can be produced and sold.
The maps are included in a PowerPoint presentation that can be found at www.ci.everett.wa.us/default.aspx?ID=2128.
The public can comment on marijuana zoning at the next planning commission meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 6 when the draft regulations will be written up. The commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 2930 Wetmore Ave.
Final regulations should be ready for the City Council before Sept. 14, when the state’s one-month marijuana license application window opens.
Zoning is the city’s only tool to control where marijuana retailers will be allowed.
Licensed stores would have to play by the city’s zoning rules, state liquor control board spokesman Brian Smith said last week. The liquor control board is charged with licensing marijuana retailers under Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana for people 21 and older.
The city wants its zoning rules in place before the state license application window opens, Olivers said last week.
Seattle is working through a similar zoning process.
Shawn, a medical marijuana dispensary owner in Seattle who didn’t want his last name published, said the additional buffer Everett is considering could prevent shops from opening up.
Medical marijuana storefronts already have a hard time locating in cities with municipal buffer rules, Shawn said.
One entrepreneur who declined to be named agreed that marijuana retailers face an uphill challenge. Even with zoning restrictions, he’s found that most landlords are leery of leasing to marijuana retailers, he said.
Shawn suggested the city use odor controls as a parameter for getting a city business license. He also implored commissioners to put in hefty building security requirements.
“This could be two feet from your house and you could not and should not know,” Shawn said.
The odor idea is still under consideration, city spokeswoman Marla Carter said. The state does not have rules about marijuana odor in its proposed rules, Smith said.
There won’t be a “green rush” of new stores popping up everywhere like medical marijuana dispensaries did in some cities.
The liquor control board will restrict the number of licensed retailers to calculated per capita demands for each city.
The liquor control board’s preliminary numbers suggest the Snohomish County market can handle about 35 marijuana retail stores, which is slightly more than the number of liquor stores in the county in 2012.
The market analysis is old and based on 2006 marijuana use estimates.
New numbers are being calculated because marijuana use has shot up in recent years, Smith said. The state will have new calculations that affect store estimates next month, he said.
The same analysis estimates only one-fourth of marijuana buyers will buy from retail stores by 2015. The analysis estimates there were about 77,000 marijuana users in Snohomish County in 2006, which is a little more than one-tenth of the population.
Public hearing in Everett on I-502 rules
The liquor control board is hosting an afternoon public hearing on legal marijuana legislation in Everett on Aug. 6.
The liquor control board’s hearing will be from 1 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6 at the Everett Holiday Inn at the east end of Pacific Avenue. The address is 3105 Pine St.
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