‘Gentrification stops here’ — MLK march ‘splinter’ group targets Central District pot shop

Protesters outside Uncle Ike's (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Protesters outside Uncle Ike’s (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Around 300 people splintered from the planned MLK Day march at Garfield High School and rushed to 23rd and Union to surround the retail pot shop Uncle Ike’s Monday afternoon.

As around 5,000 marchers headed downtown along the planned route, the splinter group of hundreds and a contingent of Seattle Police officers following it wound its way through the busy construction activity in the 23rd Ave corridor. Chanting “Black lives matter,” the crowd assembled itself surrounding the Uncle Ike’s buildings on the northeast corner of the 23/Union intersection.

Meanwhile, thousands of students, activists, officials, and community members proceeded downtown through First Hill for planned rallies at the Federal Building. While waiting for the march to start at Garfield, Vanita Clark told CHS she has been coming to Seattle’s MLK Day events for most of her life. As a lifelong Capitol Hill resident who raised her children in the neighborhood, Clark said she was marching for rent control and fair housing as she has watched the African American community dwindle over the years.

“Our daughter grew up on Capitol Hill, but she had to move to Tacoma,” Clark said.

In 2015, the massive march — one of the largest MLK Day marches in the nation — was marred by a violent response from SPD officers to a smaller protest that followed the main march and rally. In 2016, it appears the push for a secondary protest beyond the planned MLK activities was to be centered in the Central District. Continue reading

Ready for medical marijuana changes, Seattle makes more room for pot

As the state moves forward with its plans to move Washington’s largely unregulated medical marijuana system into its highly regulated and — highly taxed — retail system, Seattle has put new rules into place to better distribute thew stores across the city.

In a unanimous vote Monday afternoon, the Seattle City Council voted to approve a relaxed buffer to keep marijuana stores away from schools and parks and better regulation to prevent “Little Amsterdams” from popping up around the city due to the early restrictions placed on the industry.

The newly approved downtown pot producer and processor zones

The newly approved downtown pot producer and processor zones

Key to the new rules will be the newly relaxed 500-foot buffer for community spaces like transit centers, libraries, and parks. The existing 1000-foot buffer will remain in place for schools and playgrounds. Meanwhile, a more efficient “dispersion” amendment was also added to the legislation Monday that will establish a 1000-foot buffer wherever “two existing retail Major Marijuana Activity” business are located. The change will prevent the clustering of more than two marijuana retailers within the space of four to five city blocks. One additional amendment also passed will likely please downtown real estate owners — a downtown zone with a relaxed 250-foot buffer was created for marijuana producers and processors that could boost the industry’s presence in the approved areas.

“We are at the leading edge of a new industry. We’re trying our best to get this right,” the legislation’s author Council member Mike O’Brien said Monday before the vote approving the new rules. Continue reading

Seattle could get 21 more pot shops as zoning code reforms advance

Yellow areas on the right show where pot shops may be allowed under new rules.

Seattle could add up to 21 more pot shops as part of 222 new retail licenses the state Liquor and Cannabis board plans to issue next year. The board, which will vote on the plan January 6th, announced the increase along with findings of a much anticipated study commissioned to determine the size of the state’s marijuana marketplace.

Increasing the number of marijuana retailers paves the way for the state’s largely unregulated medical marijuana system to fold into the highly regulated and taxed retail system.

“Our goal was clear; to ensure medical patients have access to the products they need,” said WSLCB director Rick Garza in a statement. “There will be more storefronts for patients going forward than are available today. In addition, qualified patients can grow their own or join a four-member cooperative.”

Many of the city’s medical marijuana dispensaries are expected to close by July 2016 under the overhaul, though there will be a pathway for some to transition into recreational shops. I-502 shops already in operation will also be able to obtain medical endorsements to sell medical marijuana to card-holding patients tax-free.

How many more shops will open around Capitol Hill could largely depend on what happens with proposed zoning changes currently making their way through City Council. On Wednesday, the Council’s planning committee advanced a measure proposed by Mayor Ed Murray to reduce the distance new I-502 retailers must keep from places where children typically gather, like parks and arcades. Continue reading

Ruckus ‘defiantly’ opens as Capitol Hill’s first pot shop

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Sam Burke (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Sam Burke (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

A fortuitous spelling error on the front door of Capitol Hill’s first marijuana shop could not have been more fitting. After more than a year of twists and turns, Ruckus opened for business last Friday with a sign that boasts, “Yes we are defiantly open.”

Owner Sam Burke said the name of the 15th and E Republican shop was similarly inspired by the long road it took for Capitol Hill to get its first I-502 shop after the legalization measure was approved by voters in 2012. “It seemed to fit the vibe more than Tok,” he said. Continue reading

City Council notes: ‘pot zoning’ expansion, Comcast vote, Country Doctor OK

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Ray Angel

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Ian Eisenberg

A series of zoning changes that could increase the number of allowable pot retailers on Capitol Hill took a pass through the City Council’s planning committee Tuesday. Under the measure proposed by Mayor Ed Murray as part of a wider set of changes to the city’s marijuana rules, pot shops could open closer to parks and libraries by cutting in half the current 1,000 foot buffer rule. On Capitol Hill, that seems to open up the possibility for I-502 retail locations on or near Broadway, E Olive Way, E Madison, and 15th Ave, according to an unofficial map (PDF) provided by the Mayor’s Office.

The 1,000-foot buffers were initially passed in 2012 as a part of I-502. This summer, state legislators passed a bill that allowed significantly more local authority over pot zoning. Ultimately, Murray and pot business owners agree that recreational and medical marijuana should be evenly available across Seattle, but differ on the number and concentration of shops. Continue reading

Spots on Broadway, E Olive Way, E Madison could be open to pot shops under new Seattle proposal

Yellow areas on the right show where pot shops may be allowed under new rules.

 

The number of allowable locations for pot shops on Capitol Hill could expand under a new set of rules released Thursday. Mayor Ed Murray unveiled changes to the Seattle land use code that would, among other things, amend the 1,000-foot buffer rule to allow pot shops to open closer to parks and libraries. Meanwhile, state regulators are in Seattle Monday night for a public hearing on Washington’s medical marijuana rules.

Under the proposed changes in Seattle, the 1,000-foot buffer would be reduced to 500 feet, opening up the possibility for I-502 retail locations on or near Broadway, E Olive Way, E Madison, and 15th Ave, according to an unofficial map (PDF) provided by the Mayor’s Office. Continue reading

Pot twist: Arcade technicality opened way for Capitol Hill’s first pot shop

IMG_9802Add a few more to the twists and turns it has taken to get to Capitol Hill’s first pot shop. Meanwhile, the City of Seattle also is ready to propose new zoning rules around where pot shops can be located.

Earlier this week, CHS reported that after a year in limbo, Samuel Burke finally received his I-502 license to open Tok at 15th Ave E and E Republican inside the space formerly occupied by Angel’s Shoe Repair.

It was an unexpected move form the state Liquor and Cannabis Board, as a video arcade across the street appeared to be preventing Burke from opening. According to state regulations, an I-502 retailer can’t open within 1,000-foot radius of a place where children typically gather, including arcades. Continue reading

First on Capitol Hill, Tok granted pot retailer license for 15th and E Republican shop

The license for the first recreational pot shop on Capitol Hill has been approved. After a year of waiting in limbo, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board has approved the I-502 retail license for Tok to open at 15th Ave E and E Republican, according to the agency’s list of recently approved licenses. The approved location, nestled between El Farol and Postal Plus on E Republican, was the former home of Angel’s Shoe Repair.

Tok’s opening did not appear to be imminent late Monday as the shop’s windows remained papered-over. Tok owner Sam Burke and his spokesperson Ben Livingston did not return CHS’s messages Monday afternoon.

With a license in hand, Tok’s opening will close a chapter in one of the most closely watched small business dramas that’s played out on Capitol Hill. Earlier this year, Burke was well on his way to opening a pot shop inside the now-shuttered Capitol Hill Veterinary Clinic when Uncle Ike’s owner and CHS advertiser Ian Eisenberg bought the property in a $1.5 million deal. Burke, an original I-502 lottery winner, had hoped Eisenberg would still extend him a lease, but Eisenberg later told CHS he would remodel the space in hopes of finding another I-502 permit holder to partner with.

With his heart — and business plan — set on opening a shop on Capitol Hill, Burke scrambled and eventually secured a deal with the landlord across the street to open in Ray Angel’s longtime cobbler shop.

While Burke waited for Angel to make his exit, Eisenberg opened the Capitol Hill Family Arcade in the former veterinary clinic. Eisenberg said it was a convenient placeholder while he waited for the next window to submit an I-502 applications. The business seemingly had another advantage: complicating Burke’s mission to open Tok. Continue reading

Garbage bag of marijuana clippings found at 16th and Madison

If you left a garbage bag full of pot plant clippings on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning, it’s sitting inside the Seattle Police Department evidence room.

Seattle Police were dispatched to 16th and E Madison around 10:40 AM Tuesday after a caller reported finding a large bag full of marijuana clippings and plant debris scattered on the sidewalk nearby. According to SPD radio traffic, the bag didn’t appear to have any usable marijuana flowers.

SPD will probably not be investigating.

“It’s like finding a beer bottle,” said SPD spokesperson Patrick Michaud.

While retail pot is now legal in the state, there are no facilities CHS is aware of licensed to grow or process recreational marijuana in the immediate vicinity of 16th and Madison. But you might expect to see similar additions to are yard waste soon. Under new medical marijuana laws taking effect, patients will be able to grow up to four plants at home.

New no-cap license period could be good news for Capitol Hill pot

Thank you for pot smoking.

State regulators opened a new window for I-502 license applications this week, and unlike the first application round and lottery, there’s no set cap on the number of licenses they can issue. In theory, it sets up the possibility for Seattle to add more retail shops — including the next chapter in the race to bring pot to Capitol Hill on 15th Ave E.

But temper your expectations. Under a new priority criteria passed by the Legislature, the Washington state Liquor and Cannabis Board will give preferential consideration to those pot pioneers in the dissolving medical marijuana industry. First priority applicants include law abiding medical owners or employees who were issued a license prior to January 2013 and applied for a retail license prior to July 2014. Second priority applicants are medical shop owners or employees who have been linseed sinced January 2013. All other applicants will be third priority.

Even if more permits are issued, permit holders will still have to find a place to open their shop. With buffer rules still in place blocking shops from opening in most retail cores around the city, including on Capitol Hill, new locations remain hard to come by.

The WSLCB is also awaiting the results of a fresh study it commissioned to analyze how the marijuana market has changed over the last year. That will inform future caps on licenses, according to WSLCB spokesperson Brian Smith. Ultimately, the state is keen on maintaining a balanced supply of marijuana as a way to keep pot products from being sold out of state and thus keeping the federal government off its back. Continue reading