Kirkland City Council adopts marijuana regulations

 

Retains provisions from interim regulations; seeks flexibility from the State

At its March 3, 2015 meeting, the Kirkland City Council unanimously adopted regulations for marijuana retailing, production and processing.  Although Ordinance 4479 repeals the interim regulations that were set to expire in March 2015, the provisions in the newly adopted Ordinance codify the requirements contained in the interim regulations.  The City’s regulations are in addition to the regulations that the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) implemented as a result of Initiative 502 being approved by Washington voters in 2012.   Kirkland’s regulations prohibit marijuana sales in the Market Street Corridor Zones 1 and 2 and allow sales in the Totem Lake Zones 7 and 9A and in Light Industrial Zones (LIT).  In the LIT zones, marijuana sales are only allowed where at least 50 percent of the zone is bounded by commercial zones.  Further, Kirkland regulations prohibit marijuana sales on properties abutting designated school walk routes and regulates odor pertaining to marijuana processing and production businesses.

 

In keeping with the intent of the WSLCB recreational marijuana regulations, to ensure public health and safety, and to be responsive to concerns expressed by Kirkland residents, the City Council previously adopted interim zoning regulations that allowed marijuana retail sales in certain zones within the city.

 

“Having access to regulated, legal places to purchase this product was key to diminishing illicit sales and that was the goal our whole community seemed to share,” notes City Council Member Shelley Kloba.  “This ordinance strikes a good balance between the will of Kirkland voters who supported Initiative 502 and those concerned about its impacts.”

 

Initiative 502 and WSLCB’s adopted rules prohibit licensing recreational marijuana businesses in within 1000 feet of an elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation facility, childcare center, public park, public transit center, library or game arcade.  WSLCB’s rules also prohibit the issuance of marijuana licenses to home businesses in residential areas and to those with a criminal background. Additionally, WSLCB has a limitation on advertising signs.

 

Kloba recently testified before the House Committee on Commerce and Gaming in support the state giving cities flexibility to site marijuana facilities in appropriate locations in the city.    Kloba testified that even after re-zoning to permit marijuana retail in the Kirkland’s few industrial and light-industrial zones, a large portion of the zone was eliminated for potential sites when state-licensed day care opened in that zone.  

 

The City of Kirkland is seeking flexibility from the State to allow cities to exempt retail zones from the 1000 foot buffer restriction except around schools and playgrounds.  As drafted, the exemption can only occur if necessary to allow retail stores to locate in the city and does not negatively impact the jurisdiction’s civil regulatory enforcement, criminal law enforcement interests, public safety, or public health.   Kirkland’s support of more flexibility in marijuana retail siting is among one of the City Council’s adopted legislative priorities for 2015.

 

The regulations considered by the City Council were reviewed by the Planning Commission and Houghton Community Council with the Planning Commission recommending to codify the interim regulations.

 

For background information on the City’s efforts regarding the impacts of Initiative 502, go towww.kirklandwa.gov/marijuanainkirkland.