On October 7, the City Council adopted a land use and zoning ordinance that restricts where marijuana businesses may be located in Seattle. The new ordinance, coupled with state law that does not allow marijuana businesses within 1,000 feet of a school, library, park, or other location where children congregate, means that the Ravenna-Bryant neighborhood is off-limits for marijuana businesses. In northeast Seattle, large areas of land at the intersection of I-5 and Northgate Way, a few different areas along Lake City Way, and along Aurora Avenue are zoned for marijuana businesses. It also appears as if a small area of land in Wedgwood, along 35th Avenue NE, is zoned appropriately for pot shops.
The ordinance also includes a provision that states that all marijuana businesses – it does not differentiate between “recreational” and “medical” marijuana businesses – must be licensed by the state by January 2015. No licensing system exists right now for medical marijuana businesses. Therefore, these businesses must either gain recreational marijuana business licenses or the state will need to create a system for licensing medical marijuana businesses. The state legislature is expected to take up the issue of how the two marijuana systems will interact during the upcoming session.
In the City of Seattle, the Liquor Control Board expects to issue 21 licenses for businesses to sell marijuana products. This is similar to the number of liquor stores in Seattle prior to the passage of the liquor privatization initiative. The Seattle City Attorney asked the Liquor Control Board to consider licensing more retailers if it turns out that the 21 stores cannot meet the demand for marijuana products in Seattle. The City Council wrote a letter to the Liquor Control Board expressing concerns about the potential clustering of marijuana stores in certain neighborhoods.
While the proposed Liquor Control Board rules restrict marijuana advertising, the restrictions do not include a ban on mass media advertising. As long as advertising is not within 1,000 feet of a school, library, park, or other place where children congregate, or on public property, it will be allowed. This means that we could start seeing recreational marijuana advertisements on billboards, in magazines and newspapers, online, and in broadcast media within the next year.
The Liquor Control Board votes on the proposed rules on October 16 and, if adopted, they go into effect November 16. They will then accept applications for all types of marijuana licenses – for growing, processing, and selling marijuana and marijuana products. It is expected that marijuana retail stores will open late spring or early summer next year. For more information about the implementation of I-502, visit the Liquor Control Board’s website: http://www.liq.wa.gov/marijuana/I-502.