Thursday, December 05, 2013

City to Ease Pot Buffer Near Schools?

Publicola has been covering the issue of where pot stores will be springing up now that Washington State has a law to make them legal.  There are more than 80 stores with applications to be in Seattle.

In this thread, they show a map of where stores are proposed to be. 

However: If you overlay Baker's map with the city's own map of the areas where pot stores are likely to be allowed—under Seattle rules pot stores cannot within 1,000 feet of schools, day cares, parks, and other public facilities—many of the applicants will be out of luck.  

For example: A proposed store at 7th and Union in downtown Seattle (Good Patient Network LLC); one at West Mercer and 1st Ave. N. on Lower Queen Anne (Queen Anne Liquor and Wine); and one at N 49th Street and Stone Way in Wallingford (Iconic Inc.) would not be allowed. 

Oddly, the map appears to indicate that a proposed pot store at Fourth Ave. S. and S. Lander St., adjacent to Seattle Public Schools' headquarters, is A-OK. 

Capital Hill Seattle is reporting that City Attorney Pete Holmes may be considering loosen those buffers.

In a letter to the state’s Liquor Control Board, Holmes called for a more than doubling in the number of retail store licenses currently planned to be allocated in Seattle and a change in how the board interprets the 1,000-foot buffer restrictions preventing marijuana shops from opening near facilities like schools and playgrounds.

The issue appears to be the "as the crow flies" rule that would make it near impossible for a pot store on Capital Hill.

From Holmes' letter:

Seattle supports the “common path of travel” rule for measuring the 1,000-foot distance between retail marijuana stores and places frequented by persons under 21, City Attorney Pete Holmes said in a Dec. 3 letter to the Rules Coordinator of the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
Currently, the Board – relying on guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice – proposes using the “as the crow flies” measurement.

Holmes said the “common path of travel” rule is preferable because it “most accurately measures how minors might attempt to access I-502 licensed facilities,” a goal of both I-502 and the federal Drug Free Schools Act.

Also, Holmes said, in a dense city like Seattle, “as the crow flies” measurements rule out many locations for licensed dispensers. “We, too, want to keep licensed dispensers away from schools, playgrounds, and other locations identified in I-502, but this must be balanced with the equally important goal of supplanting the current illicit marijuana market with a sufficient number of I-502 stores.”

Holmes requested the Board award at least 50 retail licenses in Seattle; currently the number prescribed for the City by the state is 21.

On another I-502 issue, Holmes asked the Board to “give licensing preference to existing medical marijuana facilities that otherwise comply with – or demonstrate the ability to come into compliance with – I-502 requirements,” including application of the 1,000-foot rule.

Something to keep on your neighborhood's radar. 


Po3 said...

If we are going to have pot buffers near schools then I would also like to see the same rules applied to liquor.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, Melissa.

Just a few things . . .

The 1,000 foot buffer was included in Initiative 502 so to make it possible for pot businesses to be closer to schools, parks, libraries, etc., the state legislature would have to change the new law. Since an initiative cannot be altered by the legislature without a two-thirds majority vote until it has been in place for two years, the earliest this might happen is during the 2015 legislative session. However, the Liquor Control Board could define the 1,000 foot buffer as Pete Holmes suggests, but the federal government has made it clear they would not look kindly upon this. They already close down dispensaries that are within 1,000 feet of a school.

The City recently adopted zoning and land use regulations regarding pot shops. If they wanted to allow for more pot shops then they could loosen their own zoning and land use rules and allow marijuana businesses downtown, in neighborhood commercial and residential areas.

The Liquor Control Board is accepting applications for all three types of marijuana businesses: producer (growing), processor, and retail. The 80 applications are for all three types of businesses. Twenty seven of those applications are for retail licenses – pot shops. The rest are for growing and processing.

It should be noted that when the liquor system was still run by the state, Seattle had just about 21 retail outlets for hard alcohol – similar to the number of marijuana retail licenses being made available by the Liquor Control Board.

Most Seattle high school students who report using marijuana say that they get marijuana from friends. This is, by far, the primary source of marijuana, as is the same for alcohol. Another common way Seattle high school students who use marijuana get marijuana is at home, with or without parental permission. (2012 Youth Risk Behavior Survey) When it comes to risk factors associated with underage drinking and tobacco use, the density of places to buy these products in a community plays a significant role according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not necessarily because kids buy these products themselves, but because when adults have ready access to alcohol and tobacco, it’s easier for them to supply alcohol to minors either directly or indirectly.

Inga Manskopf

mirmac1 said...

Legalized pot will probably negate any positive education improvements made over the next few years.