SEATTLE — The feds promised not to fight the legalization of pot in Washington. But that doesn’t mean they are out of the picture.
On Friday, the Washington State Liquor Control Board reversed its decision to loosen restrictions on where pot growers and sellers can set up shop after the feds stepped in.
“I wish it wasn’t coming along personally, as a mom of three kids,” said King County resident Lori Johnston.
The feds may have thrown in the towel on that battle but it doesn’t mean the state has all the control.
“If there are problems, they want to have a way to push back,” said Coalition for Cannabis spokesman John Davis.
The state recently eased the buffer zone rules around schools and parks where kids gather. By measuring the 1,000-foot restriction based on a “common path,” it allowed stores more location options but now the feds are saying not so fast.
“In this case they interpret that to mean as the crow flies and they will enforce the law,” said Washington State Liquor Control Board spokesman Brian Smith
“It’s really completely arbitrary to have property to property line and not common path of travel; children don’t fly,” said Davis.
Davis will be bidding for a state license to open a marijuana store. He’s looking in Seattle’s Sodo district, but so are many others.
“I think it will be horrible,” said Blue Danube Productions owner Niki McKay.
McKay says she’s worried Sodo will become Seattle’s pot district with no schools and parks nearby.
“I think crime, prostitution, things like that will also head over,” said McKay.
She says other businesses may appreciate the extra traffic but not her high-end production company.
“It could turn into the red light district,” said McKay.
Cannabis entrepreneurs say their hands are tied.
“It took a lot of real estate off the market,” said Davis.
In Washington, 334 retail pot shops were approved by the board. Forty will be allowed in King County and 21 in Seattle.
The first batch of retail stores are expected to open next June.