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Everett vote on having more marijuana stores is May 16

EVERETT — The City Council heard the first reading of an ordinance that would amend the number of recreational marijuana stores within the city and relax regulations for where they can be.
The city’s Planning Commission recommended increasing the number of stores from five to 10 and decreasing the distance between them from 2,500 feet to 500. Seattle’s laws, for example, prevent any two stores being within 1,000 feet of each other.
The City Council will host a public hearing and is set to take a vote at its May 16 meeting.
There are five retail locations with licenses from the state Liquor and Cannabis Board that aren’t open due to the city’s limit. Four of them are in south Everett and one is in the north. The owners of these unopened stores have expressed complaints that in order to maintain their state licenses, they have to lease a property with surveillance cameras even though they can’t open.
If the City Council expands the store number, the five stores would have to comply with the rest of the city’s regulations, such as not being adjacent to a residence, and would be allowed time to relocate.
Councilwoman Brenda Stonecipher asked city planning director Allan Giffen if liquor stores or bars have residential restrictions. They do not. Giffen said the planning commission made the same point.
A previous area of concern the council had with retail marijuana stores was a potential increase in crime near where they operate.
The council questioned whether doubling the number of stores would lead to doubled tax revenue. Giffen said there is no data yet to answer that question.
Public comment at last week’s council meeting was split. Those who argued against the ordinance cited family values. Proponents of the ordinance cited a need for medical marijuana services in the city.
There are six stores within a two-mile radius just south of city limits.
In 2016, retail marijuana sales brought $103,000 of direct tax revenue to the city off of $27 million in taxes for Snohomish County. In 2017, the county’s tax revenue increased to $36 million.
The Planning Commission did not recommend the city implement regulations on the stores’ proximity to places like homeless shelters, youth service organizations or detoxification centers. Mayor Cassie Franklin previously requested the city consider these qualifications to protect “vulnerable populations.”
The ordinance does not change the 1,000 foot buffer between marijuana retail stores and elementary and secondary schools, parks, libraries or recreation centers.
In 2015, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board said Everett should have 10 stores, but the council in 2016 restrained the number to five. The city’s ordinance requires the council to reevaluate the number of stores by June 1, 2018.


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