Council adopts legislation to set marijuana limits in Seattle

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City of Seattle

Council President Sally J. Clark
Councilmember Nick Licata

Council adopts legislation to set marijuana limits in Seattle

SEATTLE – Council adopted legislation today placing limits where marijuana-related activities may occur in Seattle, including growing and selling. Generally, limits would not apply in Neighborhood Commercial 2 & 3, Commercial 1 & 2, Industrial Zones, and certain Downtown zones. A detailed locational breakdown, with exceptions, including historic districts and other special districts, is available here.

Council Bill 117744 was amended to meet a number of considerations identified by stakeholders, including:

  • Setting a size limit of 20,000 square feet for indoor growing operations in Seattle’s Industrial General 2, and 10,000 square feet for Industrial Business, and Industrial Commercial zones in Manufacturing and Industrial Centers; and,
  • Allowing growing operations (with a maximum size of 5,000 square feet) within Industrial General 1 zones (heavy industrial), provided they were established prior to the effective date of the legislation.

The bill limits activity in residential areas to the amount that the State defines as a single collective garden for medical marijuana patients.

Any recreational marijuana grower will be required to secure a permit from the State Liquor Control Board, which has assigned 21 retail licenses to Seattle. Per Initiative 502, the state will not issue permits to businesses within 1,000 feet of an elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, library, or game arcade that allows minors to enter.

The legislation places a deadline of January 1, 2015 for marijuana-related businesses to obtain a state license under Title 69. This could consist of a recreational license, or a medical license, should the state legislature create a medical licensing system during in the 2014 session. Once the ordinance goes into effect in November, marijuana-related businesses would need a state license in order to obtain a city land use permit.

"We struck a balance with this legislation," said Councilmember Nick Licata, chair of the Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture committee, where the ordinance originated. "We need to provide reasonable access, but direct activity to appropriate areas. As with any other retail business, this legislation helps enforce laws that ensure cannabis won’t be sold in our residential zones. "

"Councilmember Licata and I met with many district councils and numerous stakeholders since the legislation was drafted," said Council President Sally Clark. "This proposal reflects the input from a lot of well-versed, engaged citizens, advocates, responsible medical cannabis providers, and elected officials who want to see a safe, secure and reliable growing and distribution system."

In 2012, Washington state voters approved I-502 legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and directing the Liquor Control Board to develop a process for regulating marijuana production, processing, selling, and delivery. The Board is scheduled to approve rules for implementing I-502 on October 16. The Board maintains a website with information on its implementation of I-502.

The City Council passed Ordinance 123661 in 2011, clarifying that the manufacture, production, processing, possession, transportation, delivery, dispensing, application, or administration of marijuana must comply with all applicable City laws, and that compliance with City laws does not constitute an exemption from compliance with applicable state and federal regulations.

[View in Council Newsroom]