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King Co. Council votes to limit production, processing, sale of pot in unincorporated areas

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SEATTLE — Hundreds of people packed the King County Council chambers and many demanded the county continue a moratorium on legal marijuana businesses Monday.

The council later voted, 5-3, on updated legislation on Monday that could impact hundreds of neighborhoods in East King County. It limits the production, processing, and retail sale of marijuana in unincorporated areas.

Included in the adopted ordinance are measures to:

–      Remove all parcels under 10 acres and designated as Rural Area (RA) zones from use in the production (growth), processing, and retail sale of marijuana.

–      Exempt Vashon from restrictions on the use of RA zoned land for production and processing of marijuana.

–      Approve studies on potential retail and processing in specific locations.

–      Require the County Executive to identify 10 locations suitable for retail in Neighborhood Business (NB) zoned areas across unincorporated King County.

Council members voting for the measure were Reagan Dunn, Kathy Lambert, Pete von Reichbauer, Claudia Balducci, and Dave Upthegrove. Those voting in opposition were Joe McDermott, Rod Dembowski, and Larry Gossett, while Council member Jeanne Kohl-Welles was excused.

The county is presently under a four-month moratorium on the acceptance of applications for or the establishment or location of marijuana producers, processors, and retailers in unincorporated areas. The approved ordinance will end the moratorium and goes into effect 10 days after receiving signature from Executive Dow Constantine.

Before the vote, demonstrator Lorna Rufener said, “We’ve asked them to fix this, we’ve asked for a moratorium and we say they’re not ready,. People are not going to put up with this in rural areas. You can’t do this to people in their homes.”

Neighbors in Redmond Ridge, near Enumclaw and Black Diamond, told Q13 News they worry that expanded marijuana operations could be bad for property values and crime rates.

“It’s a drug, folks,” said Rufener, “It is not okay to do that to your neighbors.”

Several new amendments have yet to be considered by the council by Monday afternoon.

District 9 council member Reagan Dunn said not everyone will be happy once the full council votes on final legislation.

“I’ll be voting against some, I’ll be voting for some,” he said. “Not everybody is going to get 100 percent of what they want.”