The numbers are in: Seattle is planned to have 21 legal marijuana retail locations starting in 2014. 40 additional stores could dot King County, and there will be 334 legal pot retail locations allowed statewide. The numbers were announced Wednesday after the Washington State Liquor Control Board passed its final proposed rules on the legal pot industry. Insiders expect the new stores to be open by June 2014.
While it’s still not clear how many pot stores Capitol Hill will have and where they’ll be located, some changes in the proposals make it even more likely that pot entrepreneurs will find a home in the neighborhood. Responding to complaints that the planned 1,000-foot “as the crow flies” buffer around schools and parks is too restrictive, the board has proposed a change in the way marijuana-free zone will be measured. The new measurement will allow the permitted 1,000 feet along a “common path” between parks and schools instead of a hard-fast marijuana-restricted circle. The change could allow an area like Broadway to be in the mix for possible pot stores if city restrictions are lifted. 15th Ave E and E Olive Way have the only areas where pot retailing would be allowed on Capitol Hill under the currently planned restrictions.
Looking back at pre-privatization liquor store locations may also provide clues. The density of retail pot locations will roughly resemble the density of state-run and contract liquor stores prior to I-1183, according to WSLCB spokesperson Brian Smith. Capitol Hill had two liquor store locations in 2012.
The news comes less than week after the federal government announced it would keep its nose out of Washington’s legal marijuana business, a major go-ahead for entrepreneurs who had been waiting to plan for new marijuana retail businesses.
The City of Seattle, acting on the state framework and federal concerns, has introduced Marijuana Zoning Restrictions. This map shows where — without any changes to the restrictions as currently planned in the city — pot retail appears to be viable in Seattle. Let the real estate land rush for 15th Ave e and E Olive Way begin…
Also included in the WSLCB rules were limits on production, grows, and permits. Total annual pot production in the state will be capped at 40 tons or 1.4 million ounces. The numbers were based off consumption data gathered by the state’s researcher. According to the consumption data, the state currently consumes 165 tons of marijuana. Nearly one quarter of that is consumption by minors. Another major chunk is medical marijuana consumption. Removing those users from their calculation, the state’s contractor estimates the legal market could serve about one quarter of the current annual consumption.
By the rules, marijuana grows will be regulated in three tiers: under 2,000 square feet, 2,000-10,000 square feet, and 10,000-30,000 square feet, with 30,000 square feed being the maximum grow size. The liquor board capped the total grow space in the state at 2 million square feet, about the size of 35 football fields.
Meanwhile, don’t expect QFC to stock weed According to state law, marijuana retailers can only sell marijuana and marijuana infused products.
And finally, free customer samples will not be permitted under the state’s legal pot laws. However, growers, producers, and retailers may give out freebies amongst themselves “for the purpose of negotiating a sale.”
A series of public hearings will be held and the board could adopt the rules as early as mid October. The licenses are expected to be awarded by the end of the year.