City Council to limit recreational marijuana businesses from Market Street


On Tuesday, before over 50 concerned Market, Norkirk and Highlands citizens, the Kirkland City Council signaled willingness to take much if not all of Market Street off the list of potential locations for recreational marijuana businesses in the city. Each council member spoke as to their personal philosophy on the subject representing a broad spectrum from no limits  to marijuana businesses should not be permitted near residential dwellings

Several on the council had concerns about Market Street as a location for recreational marijuana retail/processing/production because of traffic and proximity to school walk routes. Aside from Market Street, applicants are also looking to establish recreational marijuana businesses in Norkirk, Bridle Trails/South Rose Hill and in Totem Lake.

The concerned citizens at the council meeting wore yellow scarves to make themselves noticeable from the dais and it seems to do the trick.

Council instructed staff to focus on options for restricting marijuana businesses in the MSC1 and MSC2 zones on Market Street. There was no interest in applying such restrictions city-wide.

An interim ordinance will be drafted and voted on my the council in the coming weeks.

The council will also send a letter to the WSLCB regarding its concerns. 

Council members Nixon, Kloba and Arnold argued most passionately in favor of the fewest restrictions for marijuana. Council member Asher was the most in favor of restricting or limiting recreational marijuana business locations.

This author wrote the following letter to the mayor requesting a temporary moratorium until the autumn to afford Kirkland a chance to watch and learn from other cities. There was no stomach on the council for a moratorium.

I seldom write letters to elected officials but I felt compelled to do so in this case. My read of the marijuana situation is that the council should think long and hard about allowing such businesses to open in predominantly residential neighborhoods. I have been listening to many upset neighbors, mostly from Market and Norkirk. They believe the council would prefer to avoid this issue and blame the state for any negative consequences which may come.

I urge you to to use caution and not leap into committing Kirkland until we know more about this issue. I suggest the council place a moratorium on marijuana businesses in Kirkland until we know more about the negative impacts which may befall us for leaping too quickly. Let other cities experiment and make mistakes. There will always be tomorrow for Kirkland to act benefitting from the wisdom of others.
The pro-marijuana side is pushing hard for an unfettered, immediate blessing from the council. I believe the prudent course would be for Kirkland to sit out the first round, assess the impacts, both positive and negative, and then make decisions in the autumn. A decision to proceed with marijuana in Kirkland will be long-lasting and difficult to reverse if negative impacts are found.

Frankly, I do not much care what people do in the privacy of their own homes as long as they do not hurt others. For me, this is a zoning issue with very few big winners and many, many potential losers.

Right now there are too many unknowns to make an educated decision on this issue. A wait and see stance is would seem to be the wise choice in this situation.

Thank you for your consideration.
— Rob Butcher's letter to the council

Sixty-two percent of the citizens of Kirkland voted in favor of legalizing marijuana. As one council member noted from the dais, they did not anticipate the potential concerns about negative impacts resulting from that vote. One argument made in favor of not restricting locations for marijuana businesses was that if there were no Eastside locations for purchasing weed, buyers would turn to illegal sources rather than trek to Seattle. Already several other Eastside cities are working on restricting marijuana businesses within their limits. Fortunately for them, they will all be able to shop in Kirkland.

It seems that recreational marijuana is one of the few businesses Kirkland actually welcomes. Speaking to shop owners, one gets the impression that many other businesses get keel hauled by regulations and opposition just trying to open their doors.

 Viva la economic development!

Learn more about Kirkland's marijuana options here.