Fed’s concerns change legal-pot stores map
Washington state is changing its plans for where marijuana businesses can be located, after the Justice Department reiterated that enforcing federal drug laws near schools and playgrounds remains a priority.
Seattle Times staff reporter
There is at least one part of Washington state’s rules for legal marijuana that federal prosecutors can’t abide.
The state is changing its plans for where pot businesses can be located, after Department of Justice officials told Gov. Jay Inslee that enforcing federal drug laws near schools and playgrounds remains a priority.
The state Liquor Control Board announced Friday it will file an emergency rule to revise the way it measures a 1,000-foot buffer between pot businesses and schools, playgrounds, child-care centers and other venues frequented by youth.
The revision will not change the state’s timeline for licensing legal pot merchants, said Rick Garza, director of the Liquor Control Board. Garza said he still expects pot stores to open next June or July, after stores have been licensed, their owners have undergone background checks, and producers have grown crops to supply them.
But the adjustment will impact where those stores can be located.
Under draft rules, the 1,000-foot buffer was to be measured in a straight line, or as the crow flies. But that restricted businesses to the point that it appeared no pot stores could be located in dense neighborhoods such as Seattle’s Capitol Hill.
In revised rules issued last week, the board changed the way the 1,000 feet is calculated, opting to use the most common path between a pot facility and a youth venue, rather than a straight-line measurement.
Relaxing the buffer measurement would’ve created more possible pot business locations in Seattle, according to a map produced by city planners.
But Garza said that in a meeting with Inslee on Tuesday, Jenny Durkan and Mike Ormsby, the top federal prosecutors in Washington state, made it clear they would enforce federal law based on the straight-line measurement.
“We want to make it clear we’re going to mirror federal law,” Garza said.
He said the clarity and ease of measuring 1,000-feet in a straight line as opposed to the more complicated “most common path” may make some cities more welcoming to pot businesses.
Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or firstname.lastname@example.org