SEATTLE — When legal marijuana shops begin opening up in Washington state, there will be 21 licensed stores in Seattle, but City Attorney Pete Holmes doesn’t think that’s enough.
“We need to make sure we’re providing for the anticipated demand,” Holmes said.
Holmes was one of the sponsors of Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana in the state. He is worried that if the legal supply is too small, criminal drug dealers will still be able to make a profit.
“I think the average person that wants to enjoy cannabis would much prefer going to a well-lit, state regulated store,” Holmes said. “I think we’re going to find that people are anxious for that opportunity.”
The Liquor Control Board said it’s done the research and came up with 21 stores in Seattle, based on population and the prediction that about 25 percent of marijuana users are expected to get their pot from those stores the first year they are open.
But finding somewhere to put those 21 legal stores isn’t going to be easy. State rules say pot shops can’t be within 1,000 feet of places where children gather like schools, parks or libraries. In a dense city like Seattle, that leaves just a few small pockets for pot vendors to set up shop.
Holmes also wants the board to consider loosening up the rules for where stores can be, so people have access in their neighborhood.
“Marijuana has been illegal for nearly a century and the notion that one vote has shifted us away from this failed prohibition policy into a legalized regulated market is astonishing,” Holmes said. “It’s a freedom that we really have to guard responsibly.”