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Will Zoning Laws Prohibit Pot Stores in Washington? Almost Everywhere Is Illegal in Seattle!

Where will pot stores be located?
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Maybe the writers of I-502 didn’t think this one through.

This is an issue that almost nobody in the Pacific Northwest media is covering, but would significantly impact those who wish to make use of legalized marijuana. Question remains, where will pot stores be located?

According to Dominic Holden of the website thestranger.com, an online magazine about music, food, entertainment and pop culture in Seattle, the zoning laws contained in I-502 will make it virtually impossible for the stores to be located anywhere!

From thestranger.com article:

As written, I-502 bans marijuana retail storefronts within 1,000 feet of the perimeter of certain properties, including parks, schools, arcades, libraries, community centers, and even public transit centers. The city has proposed its own restrictions on where marijuana outlets can open their doors (such as banning them on blocks zoned strictly for single-family houses). What happens when you overlay the state’s and city’s restrictions? There’s almost no place in Seattle where you could actually set up a pot store.

Why were zoning laws for pot stores written that way in I-502? So as to not conflict with federal laws and anti-drug programs that stipulate stiffer penalties for drug infractions in the areas mentioned in the preceding paragraph, among other statutes.

The Washington State Liquor Control board cannot change these zoning areas, because they are decided by statutes that would require a two-thirds vote by the state legislature to change. The liquor control board can shrink down these zones, but cannot expand them.

According to the current zoning restrictions, for example, Seattle’s only potentially areas for pot stores would be in industrial zones near the Harbor Island shipyards or close to the landing strip at Boeing Field. I-502 was supposed to control black market pot sales, but if people have to go way out of their way to buy it, illegal operations may still be preferential and now there’s no punishment for possessing it!

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