Edmonds pot shops likely to be located on Highway 99; required buffers limit possible alternatives

Adrienne Fraley-Monillas
Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas

Updated April 24, 2014 with latest buffer map

The Edmonds City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday night to approve an ordinance that is likely to make Edmonds’ Highway 99 area the location for the two licensed retail marijuana stores that the State of Washington has allocated to the City of Edmonds. Highway 99 is also where any state-approved facilities for growing or processing pot in Edmonds will be located.

The vote — Councilmembers Diane Buckshnis, Lora Petso, Thomas Mesaros and Joan Bloom supporting —  followed significant discussion about trying to distribute the two retail outlets in various parts of town. But under the requirements of Initiative 502, which legalized the sale of marijuana in Washington state for adult use, any pot businesses must comply with 1,000-foot buffers required between them and parks, arcades, child care and recreation centers, schools and transit centers.

And given the relatively small number of businesses in Edmonds, “you have very few (business) zones that are not covered by a buffer,” Planning Manager Rob Chave told the council.

The council had before it three possible ordinances covering pot retail locations. The first, recommended to the council by the Edmonds Planning Board, in theory would have made more locations in Edmonds open to pot businesses — essentially in most of the city’s commercial zones — although it’s unclear once the buffers were applied how much of that space would be available. The second ordinance — the one approved by the council — limits pot retailers “to the larger, more visible commercial zones,” which specifically eliminates two small business zones from consideration: One along 100th Avenue West (the tiny strip of land where Grounded Espresso sits) and the other on Puget Drive in the area of the Olympic View Deli. As with the first ordinance, under ordinance two it would be unlikely after buffers are applied that neighborhoods outside of Highway 99 would be eligible, unless one of the restricted uses — an existing daycare or school, for example, closed its doors or moved to a new location, Chave said.

The third ordinance would have restricted retail locations to Highway 99 only.


The pot issue served to further highlight the current and future state of the Edmonds stretch of Highway 99, which was also brought up in other council discussions Tuesday night. In a joint discussion with the planning board that took up about 45 minutes of the meeting, the council agreed that addressing Highway 99 development was a priority. Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas — the only councilmember to live in the Highway 99 neighborhood — said that she had recently spent an evening riding along with Edmonds police as they patrolled Highway 99, and she was alarmed by the increasing amount of illegal activity found there.

Fraley-Monillas said she was hopeful that adding mixed-use development that included residential to Highway 99 would change the character of the area. Later, during the marijuana zoning discussion, the second-term councilmember said that restricting pot operations to Highway 99 “is a prime example of pushing off potentially not wanted things into the 99 area, which creates more of the issues that we’re seeing.”

Councilmember Lora Petso, a supporter of the ordinance that passed, said that while she understood Fraley-Monillas’ concerns about Highway 99, it was a better option that allowing pot shops “in some of these little tiny, tiny business districts that are essentially neighborhood areas.”

In voting against the ordinance, Fraley-Monillas countered that Highway 99 was also a neighborhood.

Councilmember Strom Peterson also expressed his opposition to the second ordinance, offering the view that retail pot shops should be integrated into the community, which would have been more likely under the first ordinance, rather than being hidden from it,

“My concern with supporting this (ordinance two) is the more that we as a society separate this new legal business and we treat it differently than we do other accepted adult vices…I think we just add to the stigma,” he said. “Part of I-502 and its rather overwhelming victory I think is trying to combat that stigma. I don’t want to parse it out so we are allowing it here and here, and — I think to Ms. Fraley-Monillas’ point — just want to shove it over to one part of town to cover our eyes.”

After deciding where the pot businesses would be located, the council also voted unanimously to approve the process for city licensing of retail marijuana operations, which will be treated similarly to the way the city issues liquor licenses.

As for next steps in the pot licensing process, the Washington State Liquor Control Board will hold a lottery this week to select the apparent successful applicants for marijuana retail licenses. The liquor control board is expected to post the ordered list of applicants for each jurisdiction in the public records section of the agency website on May 2, and predicts it will begin issuing retail licenses no later than the first week of July.

The current license applicant spreadsheet shows that six producers, four processors, and 17 retail outlets have applied for licenses in Edmonds. The state notes that background checks still must be conducted on all applicants, and that the “pending” column indicates only that the application is in the pool.

In other action, the council:

– heard the Edmonds Citizen’s Tree Board Annual Report, and unanimously approved a resolution to establish a Heritage Tree program to promote significant trees in the community.

-voted unanimously to authorize Mayor Dave Earling to sign a $1.37 million professional services contract with Parametrix Inc. to upgrade the aging control system of the city’s wastewater treatment plant and spend an additional $308,363 for hardware and software to complete the project.


  1. Well, love you too City Council members who voted to place all of the marijuana business onto Hwy 99. Seems you have fallen to the pressure of your neighbors to not place these businesses in their neighborhoods; ones that could also handle some portion of these activities according to the City.

    You are also out of step with the City’s efforts to improve business on and around the Highway, as is happening today. You have created a mixed message to current and prospective business owners as to what the City intends for this part of town – business and residential improvement, or a bunch of folks (likely from Edmonds and your neighborhoods) blowing smoke and causing trouble.

    Instead of further growing a healthy business community that already provides 80% of Edmonds’ tax revenues, you have reinforced that tired, inaccurate picture of our business and residential neighborhoods. As noted last night, we too have vibrant neighborhoods, many successful large businesses that we treasure, and wish to protect.

    In conclusion, thanks for creating an election issue for us!

  2. I don’t think ANYBODY wants these businesses in their backyard except for stoners and deadheads……I don’t care where you live or do business or own a business

    Medical marijuana used to be prescribed by physicians and dispensed by pharmacists…..That seemed to work fine in the past………

  3. Ron, it is true that only one Councilmember lives in the Bowl, but the issue is a problem called ‘Bowlitis.’ It’s engrained in too many folks and cannot be cured. It is seen in social and business networks around town, and the view of Edmonds is well established. It works this way, vote the unwanted businesses physically away from the Bowl, but ensure access to them if needed (i.e., adult bookstores & adult pot shops). These two examples are primarily, if not entirely, targeted for Hwy 99. Out of sight, out of mind, but not out of reach. What’s funny is we don’t have this approach to the liquor stores, so I guess this is not a problem. Then comes the closing scene where many say ‘yuck’ about the Eastside of town because such establishments are voted into place here. So ‘Bowlitis’ explains the 4 votes for the pot industry, and the adult bookstores that can only be placed on or around the 99. Out of sight, out of mind, not out of reach.

  4. Let’s not blame “bowlitis” but rather all the people who thought legalizing was a great idea. It would have been possible to change the punishment so people were not jailed. But instead we have legalized it making it much easier for younger people to use it. I worked a long time in a middle school and know how older brothers and sisters can be the conduit for younger people. We know that the detrimental affect of alcohol, pot etc. is worse the younger it is used. When pot was made legal it makes it seem less harmful. But we have to live with it and the council made a difficult decision.

  5. And Hwy 99 is but 4 blocks from E-W high school. Over time there have been some incidents with a very few students and theft of alcohol from local stores. Now consider MJ’s availability near the school. Buffer zones provide no buffer from such possibilities. Come on folks, wake up.

  6. Good idea Barbara about non jail time

    I would be real concerned about the high school…….those kids will just pay some soul on 99 to buy it for them……..no brainer…….We’ve made it very easy for them to get the drug…….and it is a drug…..One does get impaired……that is what the science shows

  7. This thread is full of out of date mindsets. Thankfully, you all are a dying bread. I don’t hear anyone complaining about The Thursday Art Walk over serving wine to people, without proper liquor licenses. People are just walking around with open containers of wine. You think they all walked down there? Doubtful. Most are hopping behind the wheel after a couple glasses of wine. No one should be behind a wheel after drinking or smoking cannabis. Period.

    But let’s address our own hypocrisies here folks.

    Deaths form consumption in the US in 2010

    Alcohol-Induced Deaths- 25,692
    Cannabis (Marijuana) – 0 – (yep… )

    Source for those interested: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Causes_of_Death#sthash.22kAWKxc.dpbs

  8. I’m not certain you actually ready beyond the title of the article.

    “What we think we are seeing here is a very early indication of what becomes a problem later on with prolonged use” You see some keywords? “We think” “Very early indication”

    My couple year old facts are still a stronger scientific argument than the hypothesis presented in this article.

    20 participants smoked 4 times a week, on average 11 joints per week. That’s 2.75 joints per session. That’s absurd on any level. No wonder they can’t seem to function. They found 20 young adults that if not pot, would probably be pounding beers/alcohol.

    Anything in excess will cause some type of change in the physiology of a person. What happens if you eat too many cheeseburgers? You’ll gain weight, higher cholesterol, and you’ll probably just as motivated to run a marathon as someone who smokes or drinks in excess. Not as healthy as you used to be now? Oh great, her comes the depression. That alters the mind then too, right?

    From the article “What we think we are seeing here is a very early indication of what becomes a problem later on with prolonged use”
    Listen, I understand people are concerned, but there is no long term studies with a large enough sample of people. People are naturally scared of what they do not know or understand. At this point, researches and anit-pot groups are grasping at straws to try to show negative effects.

    Remember when Ecstasy was causing holes in the brain? Yeah, that was all garbage fed to us by the anit-drug administrations. It might not be harmless, but the scare tactics where false information.

    We as citizens needs to remember to not buy into the noise we are always fed. Like it or not, we’re often lied to by the government that we often blindly trust. I’m not a conspiracy theorist or some radical. I work a 9-5 corporate job, I drink far more than I’d ever smoke, but I’ll be damned if we keep spreading false information that fit into some lobbyists agenda .

  9. My personal option would be to put it right next to somebody’s house that voted for this hideous law. If so many people wanted this and thought is was such a good idea, why should the dealer have to sell it on Hyw 99, put them in the neighborhoods. Maybe then they may rethink this wasn’t such a good idea. Another option would be to put them right next to the police station. That way the cops could sit out front and run license plates checking for warrants. It would be like shooting ducks on a pond.

  10. I don’t know ANY ADDICT that didn’t smoke marijuana and drink alcohol FIRST;………

    It’s a GENE, and THAT is science! There is no question regarding that….THAT has been KNOWN for quite some time.

    .Sooooooooooo, it doesn’t matter whether you EAT FOOD in EXCESS and become OBESE, use SEX EXCESSIVELY and can’t CONTROL or STOP, GAMBLE, DRINK ALCOHOL in EXCESS , COCAINE, HEROIN, METH, MARIJUANA, etc. ad nauseum….., ADDICTION does KILL!…….Just go to AA, NA, etc. meetings and LISTEN to the stories……They are all trying to get help to STOP the consequences (and the knowledge that they could DIE) of having that GENE, Addiction! plain and simple RUINS whole lives…….whole families, and is KNOWN as the GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING…….generation to generation. If your family doesn’t carry that GENE one is lucky, but if it does, it’s like playing Russian roulette with ANY DRUGS…….nobody started their life out and said, Hey I want to be an addict…

    America is a country of addicts (why does the Cartel know we are their BEST customer! in the world)…..What we need right now is treatment centers, not stores selling and growing more DRUGS for more addicts.
    The GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING………hardly worth the short term high if you have the gene………….if someone has been smoking marijuana since the 60s, well, thatZ an ADDICT……guess they couldn’t stop, and that is why it is considered a DRUG…..not different than taking Sanax for 40 years…..Gee, d’ya think one is addicted?

    Easy solution, no shops ANYWHERE in our small community

  11. and by the way, if anyone thinks those Cartels are going to step aside with their international and American MEGA business, one is living in a fantasy world……perhaps TREATMENT and EDUCATION the better answer, than NO MARKET ……

    Why not AMP UP our tourism here on the water for development $$$$, rather than playing Russian roulette with peoples and children’s lives……Let’s build a hotel at the back of the Post Office lot….right on Main, close to the water….something along those lines……Let’s use the water, mountains, birds, etc. for a REAL HIGH….I just read that people are healthier and live longer if they live by a park…..just think what we could do

  12. I love Dave Sittauer’s idea. Let’s place those facilities next to those who voted for it. And just because it is legal doesn’t mean it is “good” or necessarily “right.” With pot being legal, it does motivate me to educate my daughters on why they should not consider pot as an option beyond the historical “it’s not legal” argument. With it being legal, I now can show them the “why” behind my suggestion based on evidence. Regardless of it being legal, my company will still drug test – and pot isn’t an option.


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