9/19/2014

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Seattle City Council takes up issue of marijuana zoning

Seattle City Council takes up issue of marijuana zoning
SEATTLE -- Seattle is getting the jump on marijuana sales with a string of zoning proposals, but pot advocates say part of the plan could hurt the economy and send jobs outside the city.

Now that recreational marijuana use is legal for adults, city leaders have been busy laying the groundwork for how commercial operations could work.

Members of the city council are proposing a string of zoning ordinance changes, and the council took public comment on their ideas at a Wednesday meeting.

One of the ideas is to cap grow operations at 10,000 square feet, but that plan drew criticism at Wednesday's meeting.

"They need to allow for more than 10,000 square feet or people will just go do the projects outside of Seattle. And we would be saying goodbye to hundreds of jobs and all the tax revenue that comes with that," said marijuana lobbyist Phillip Dawdy.

State law under initiative 502 sets up a 1,000 foot buffer zone to keep pot stores away from schools, parks, daycare centers, residential neighborhoods and libraries.

Council members also want to keep the city's historic districts off limits to the pot industry.

One pot proponent said instead of rewriting zoning laws, city leaders should be reaching out to the federal government, which still considers marijuana illegal.

"Informing them that Seattle citizens are tired of these ridiculous laws, and as a city council, you don't want to see legal businesses within the city of Seattle to be underneath threat by the federal government," said Jared Smith from the Responsible Marijuana Project.

No decisions were made on Wednesday, but the council has scheduled another hearing for May 8. At that point, a committee vote could take place.
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