Where will pot businesses locate in Edmonds? Council considers options

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Prior to discussing the marijuana business location issue, the Council heard public testimony from two speakers who raised concerns about potential threats to public health and safety posed by legal marijuana. But testimony was not all negative; Justin McMahon (pictured here) who worked on the pot legalization initiative, argued in favor of allowing these businesses to operate.

With the current moratorium on marijuana-related businesses due to expire on May 14, and with the state having already issued the first licenses to marijuana businesses, the Edmonds City Council on Tuesday began grappling with the questions of how and where these businesses might locate within the city limits.

Subsequent to last year’s approval by the voters of Initiative 502 legalizing recreational marijuana, the Washington State Liquor Control Board developed a comprehensive set of guidelines for how to implement the new law. Among other things, these provide for 1,000-foot buffer zones around schools, playfields, community centers, parks and similar facilities within which marijuana businesses are prohibited.

As part of their discussion, the Council called on Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan to speak to the potential public safety issues posed by legal marijuana. Addressing the issue of impaired driving, Compaan assured the Council that I-502 sets a legal limit for THC in blood, that the police routinely perform blood tests now to assess other chemcials, and that adding testing for marijuana would not have a significant impact.

As part of the discussion, the council called on Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan to speak to the potential public safety issues posed by legal marijuana. Addressing the issue of impaired driving, Compaan assured the Council that adding testing for marijuana would not have a significant impact on the police department’s workload.

On Tuesday evening, Edmonds Planning Director Rob Chave presented the council (minus Strom Peterson, who was absent due to a family matter) with a map of Edmonds showing the location of these buffer zones. The map reveals that while most of Edmonds lies within buffer zones and is hence off limits to pot businesses, there are a few locations where they could legally locate. These include some stretches of Highway 99, a section of Edmonds Way just east of Westgate, and some small areas near Five Corners, Perrinville, and Firdale Village.

Chave explained that existing zoning regulations variously permit or restrict wholesale and retail commercial operations in these areas, He further pointed out that since marijuana producers and processors are defined as wholesale businesses under the law, they would be restricted to only areas zoned for wholesale business, primarily along Highway 99. Retail pot stores, on the other hand, would have a wider choice of potential locations. But according to the state retail license allocation formula, Edmonds will get only two retail stores.

Councilmember Kristiana Johnson suggested that as a way to control where these businesses locate, Edmonds might restrict all marijuana businesses, wholesale and retail, to only those areas zoned for wholesale businesses such as along Highway 99. Councilmember Fraley-Monillas pointed out that the two retail businesses allocated to Edmonds should not locate too close to one another.

The discussion then turned to the more immediate issue of establishing guidelines for how to proceed when notified by the state that a marijuana license has been issued to a business planning to locate in Edmonds. Chave told the council that so far, the City of Edmonds has received no official notification, but could at any time.

Accordingly, the council directed City Attorney Jeff Taraday to prepare an ordinance that would set the framework for how to proceed when notified by the state that a license to operate a marijuana-related business in Edmonds had been approved.

The Council plans to take this up at its next meeting on April 8.

– Story and photos by Larry Vogel

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8 Comments

  1. I am wondering why this is not put to a vote (yes or no in our city) by the council. Is there a legal reason or does the council think they know what Edmonds wants.

  2. Negatives of recreational marijuana use, children and adults

    Here is a link from the February 14, 2014 issue of the New York Review of Books, regarding CURRENT information on the use of marijuana, recreational and medicinal.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/feb/20/marijuana-high-and-low/

    This is an excellent, up to date article that everyone should read, particularily families with children…..be informed!

    Thank you to the two counselors last night that spoke at the city council meeting, in regards to the negatives of recreational marijuana use.

  3. Ms Ryder:
    Many of us are anxious to see your response to Darrol’s question. Did we miss seeing your reply?

    Darrol Haug March 30, 2014, 10:58 am Reply
    Ms Ryder, You mention in your post “It is well known that there are many drug houses at Five Corners…..” If this is so well known are you suggesting our police are not aware or if they are aware are not doing anything about it? Or what are you suggesting with that comment?

  4. Ron, I did not see a response either. I was hoping to understand her viewpoint of the effectiveness of our police in locating the drug houses she mentioned near 5 Corners.

    • Here in lies the problem: Ignorant people are making the decisions regarding legal use of weed, and it is a weed. It would be like outlawing dandelions, really no matter how hard you try it spreads like wild fire. The only people making a big deal out of this are the politicians, who really should have nothing to do with it. As far as testing drivers for marijuana, are you kidding. THC stays in your system for around 30 days, so, if I smoke weed, say on April 8th, get pulled over on April 20th for a simple brake light out, they test me as positive and freakin’ run me through the system. Really?! What are you people thinking? Do your research, god knows there is everything you want to know about it at medical websites, NORML website, etc. The government is trying to tell everyone how to live their adult lives, as if we are a communist country. The government makes all the money and the citizens get screwed. I have been smoking weed for 45 years, never have I ever had a ticket, an accident, or any issue in regards to smoking weed. The medical benefits are amazing, a lot of people are suffering in this country because the government is so ass backwards! Pull your heads out, it is 2014. I don’t believe the government should have the right to tell any adult what they can and cannot do in their home as far as weed goes. I just found out there are two level III sex offenders on my block, I contacted the Sheriff, they say the two are no longer be monitored but they both live across the street from our community park, and you won’t let medical marijuana or retail marijuana in your city limits?! That just doesn’t make sense to me. I guess to Edmonds City Council, they would rather have their city filled with Level III sex offenders than someone who is trying to get some comfort for their pain in their own homes. GIVE ME A BREAK!! EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE YOURSELVES. Just pretend it is ALCOHOL, that seems to be approved by the government (which I’m sure more than half are alcoholics! My sister was killed by a drunk driver, I just wish the driver would have been smoking weed and not drinking alcohol! By the way, since alcohol was approved to sell in grocery stores, I have not bought one drop because, of course, the government had to jack the price up so high I can’t afford it. If they do the same with weed, I will start getting it from the underground dealers as before. I thought they would go out of business, but the government will screw this up so bad it will keep all the dealers in business. Way to go Edmonds and every city in this country that thinks the same way.

  5. Drug Houses near 5 corners? Pretty soon, when the TCD is installed, the cops will know how to catch them, they will be the ones stuck in the circle.

    I don’t quite understand council’s opinion – so are they going to allow legal products to be sold in Edmonds, or are we going to have to go to the International District to get that.

  6. George, actually as one looks at the map showing potential sites, there are possible locations in the Westgate area, north end of 99, a bit of 5 Corners and a few square feet here-and-there. But like our local liquor establishments, I assume the mj businesses with be regulated closely and dealt with if not compliant. Would be good for folks to learn about what has transpired in Colorado to see what is possible in Washington state.

  7. Jim, I saw that on the overlay, and think all of those points you bring up about compliance are great – as long as it is well run and managed, it would be good to have the new business! Why not a nice shop down around the ferry?

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