WASHINGTON: A year and a half after 1-502 was first passed by Washington State voters, Seattle’s first recreational marijuana stores have begun opening their doors. But amid concerns over high prices and inconsistent product availability, many of the industry’s business owners have expressed concern over the current regulations governing where recreational marijuana stores can begin setting up shop.
Due to federal law first established during the Reagan Administration, which still classifies marijuana as a controlled substance, recreational marijuana stores must be 1,000 feet away from “an elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, library, or arcade where admission is not restricted to those age 21 and older.”
Under this regulation, the large number of parks and schools across the Seattle area has made placement of recreational marijuana stores a difficulty. The Washington State Liquor Control Board previously attempted to redefine the 1,000 foot radius to be “along common path of travel” rather than “as the crow flies,” a classification that would have opened up additional areas for zoning across the city, but the decision was ultimately overruled by the federal government.
James Lathrop, owner of Seattle’s first recreational marijuana store Cannabis City, has said that the current restrictions are “crushing” for his business and the burgeoning industry, especially when coupled with the slow licensing process of the Liquor Control Board and the ever-present threat of the federal government pulling the plug on recreational marijuana stores entirely.