Kirkland Bans Marijuana Retail Near School Walk Routes, Permits MJ Retail In Light Industrial Zones

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Kirkland City Council unanimously passes Ordinance-4439 regarding marijuana regulations

 Following Kirkland City Council's prior adoption of Ordinance O-4434 on February 4, 2014, establishing interim regulations on the sale of recreational marijuana, concerned citizens began a campaign of writing letters, delivering speeches, brainstorming on strategy, researching zoning, creating and distributing flyers, talking with the liquor control board, and speaking before the council.

The community’s efforts paid off last night when the City Council passed an interim ordinance addressing community concerns while acting to honor the intent of Initiative 502.

During the Kirkland City Council's Public Hearing covering issues concerning marijuana businesses in Kirkland, the council passed O-4439, a temporary ordinance disallowing marijuana retail businesses next to school walk routes while opening up industrial areas for marijuana retail businesses.

This solution by the council took much effort given the wide range of opinions held by council members on this issue.

On February 4, 2014, the City Council adopted Ordinance O-4434 establishing interim regulations on the sale of recreational marijuana. The ordinance prohibited marijuana sales in the Market Street Corridor (MSC) 1 zone due to concerns about its proximity to school walk routes, the unknown traffic impacts of marijuana retail locations, and the fact that the MSC 1 zone was primarily a low density office zone with few retail businesses. At that time, the Council asked staff to research additional options for allowing and restricting marijuana sales.

Council tasked staff to find best practices to guide Kirkland on this issue. The new interim ordinance O-4439 passed by the City Council does the following:

  • Continue to allow marijuana sales in zones that allow retail establishments, while also;

  •  Prohibiting marijuana sales in the Market Street Corridor MSC 1 zone and the MSC 2 zone due to adjacency to Kirkland School Walk Routes;

  • Prohibiting marijuana sales on properties abutting other Kirkland School Walk Routes;

  • Allow marijuana sales in three light industrial zones: Totem Lake (TL) 7 and TL 9, and Light Industrial Technology (LIT); and

  • Establish enforcement authority for the interim regulations. 

Two amendments to the interim ordinance were offered by Councilmember Nixon. The council voted to strike two portions of the proposed ordinance written by staff:

  • Require the containment of marijuana odors (passed 7-0);
  • Require security measures for cash and marijuana kept on businesses premises (passed 5-2).

Councilmember Asher offered an amendment to clarify the definition of "site" in the amendment. This amendment passed by a vote of 7-0.

Councilmember Arnold offered an amendment to declare this ordinance an emergency, which was not approved by council. If passed, this amendment would have made this ordinance effective immediately as opposed to in approximately 10 days as would be the normal process.