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Everett considering letting more marijuana stores open up

EVERETT — The city’s planning commission is revisiting how many marijuana retailers can operate within city limits and where, with a possible recommendation for more lax regulations to hand over to the City Council as early as this spring. 
In 2015, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board determined Everett should have 10 stores, but a 2016 City Council ordinance restrained the number to five.
Mayor Cassie Franklin asked the planning commission to consider additional zoning requirements to keep stores away from defined “vulnerable populations” such as homeless people and those recovering from addiction. Some example locations for buffers are homeless shelters, organizations serving youth and nonprofit services for disabled or youth clients. 
In Everett’s laws, the required distance between marijuana retail shops is 2,500 feet. Seattle’s zoning laws have no more than two stores within 1,000 feet from each other. 
State law allows a city to shorten the distance to 100 feet, if the city council passes an ordinance permitting it. This exception, though, can’t apply toward elementary and secondary schools, as well as public parks. Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia have passed ordinances to do this.
All retailers can’t be within 1,000 feet of an elementary or secondary school, public park, library, playground, arcade for minors, recreation center or public transportation center by state law.
There are five additional stores with state-approved licenses that can’t open in Everett due to the current limit. 
Philip Doty represents two stores that are hoping to
open with an expanded limit.
“This is free market capitalism we have here in America, even with cannabis,” Doty said. “Stopping stores from opening that have been duly authorized by the state, that’s getting in the way of capitalism.”
James Parabello, a former legislative liaison for the Liquor and Cannibas Board, said expansion could hurt existing stores. He added that the area is at “peak consumption.” 
Marijuana in Snohomish County last year was a $150 million per year industry, bringing in $36 million in tax revenue. The five stores within Everett’s limits generated almost $6.4 million in tax revenue in 2017. From 2016’s numbers, the taxes trickled down to $103,000 in direct revenue for the city.
Critics against expanding the number cite the number of stores located just outside of the city. There are six within a two-mile radius just south of city limits. 
Another argument against upping the number of stores is what it would do to public safety.
“I don’t know what you’ve heard about the market that’s been here, but I don’t think you’ve had too many problems with the five stores that have been,” said Neary Ouch, owner of High Society located on Broadway.  
Planning Director Allan Giffen said the commission will discuss the issue again in March or April.

 

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