City Council split on having more marijuana stores in Everett
EVERETT — By a 3-3 tie, the City Council did not change the number of marijuana stores in the city, which means the limit stays at five.
The city has a five-store limit the council set in place in summer 2016. The state determined at the time that Everett should have 10 stores based on its population. Ten came to be when the state doubled store counts statewide.
In the vote, Council President Paul Roberts and Councilwomen Brenda Stonecipher and Judy Tuohy favored adding more stores. Councilwoman Ethel McNeal and Councilmen Scott Bader and Jeff Moore voted against.
Councilman Scott Murphy, who couldn’t attend last week’s meeting, wrote a statement that he wanted to keep the city limit at five stores.
The vote preceded one-and-a-half hours of public testimony where numerous organizations from outside the city advocated unleashing the additional stores.
McNeal touched on the prominent outside influence. If marijuana is such a moneymaker, why not promote it in their cities, she said.
Stonecipher and Tuohy supported more stores to promote more medical marijuana access, which was one factor why the state doubled the number of regulated stores when unregulated medical dispensaries were outlawed.
Roberts made an amendment to require all new stores have a medical license.
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.
Cannabis activists argue that Everett is far short of the state’s average to have one store for every 11,000 people in a city.
But with six other stores within a mile outside city limits, largely down Highway 99, the picture is not black and white. Moore said the additional stores nearby mean the per capita rate is lower than portrayed.
Moore voted against additional stores because of the overall impression they give to tourists and potential new businesses.
Bader voted against because other cities, such as Marysville and Lynnwood, are blocking any stores from moving in. “Everett has done its part,” Bader said.
Representatives from the statewide Cannabis Alliance and the Cannabis Education Coalition were among those who spoke.
The split of speakers was approximately 15 in favor of more stores to nine against, but the split was matched more evenly among Everett residents who spoke to the council.
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