Eastside Cities Enact Marijuana Bans, Moratoriums and Restrictions


Woodinville bans marijuana businesses. Redmond and Issaquah extend marijuana moratoriums. Bellevue considers extending recreational marijuana interim zoning restrictions.

What is Kirkland doing? Hand ringing.

It appears that the cities of Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Woodinville and Issaquah all have very different approaches to allowing recreational marijuana within their borders. Our Eastside neighbors have proactively acted on the side of caution with regulations, moratoriums and even an outright ban.

Kirkland has struggled with this issue. Our City Council has chosen a very different course: to maximize the number of marijuana retail locations in Kirkland.

Kirkland City Council holds a Public Hearing on marijuana on February 4, 2013.

What makes Kirkland so different from our neighbors in Bellevue, Redmond, Woodinville or Issaquah?  What accounts for Kirkland's overly permissive stance on recreational marijuana compared to other Eastside cities?

Kirkland citizens have raised quite a ruckus about this issue writing emails and posting comments in opposition to the council's rush to legalize marijuana in Kirkland. A common thread: the council is acting with little regard to the wishes of those most impacted.

Here is the marijuana roundup for Eastside cities:





Bellevue enacted an interim ordinance which limits marijuana production and processing to areas zoned for light industrial uses, and restricts the locations of retail outlets. It also requires beefed up security measures, prohibits outdoor growing and mandates that recreational marijuana operations be at least 1,000 feet away from medical cannabis collective gardens. A Public Hearing is planned to consider an ordinance extending an interim official zoning control regulating recreational marijuana uses for an additional six month period.

A review of public statements made from the dais on February 4, 2013 reveals that the Kirkland City Council has a wide range of perspectives on the marijuana issue. Some want to immediately permit the legalization of recreational marijuana in the maximum number allowable Kirkland locations. Others want to maximize buffers around residences and other restrictions. A stalemate was averted by a compromise which resulted in excluding marijuana businesses from 1818 Market Street.

In an effort to better understand where each councilmember stands on this issue, Kirkland Views invited them to share their individual views on this subject. In a letter (below), we asked the council to participate in a series of editorials explaining their individual perspectives. Three of the seven council members agreed to participate, but later declined following the council retreat. On Friday, Mayor Amy Walen released a statement representing the entire council. Read: MAYOR WALEN: BEING RESPONSIVE TO CONCERNS ABOUT MARIJUANA LICENSING.

Dear Kirkland City Councilmembers,

The council’s recent vote on marijuana regulations has left many in our community with unanswered questions. It is clear that individuals on the council each hold very different perspectives on this issue. Given the nature of the debate during council session, the public did not get a clear understanding of where each of you stands on an important issue of deep concern to many.

Our neighboring cities of Bellevue and Redmond are also grappling with this issue. Their city councils are contemplating the following restrictions on marijuana businesses:
- 6 month moratorium
- 1000 foot buffer zones around residences
- permitting marijuana businesses only at previous state liquor stores

Regarding marijuana, Kirkland’s city council has chosen a different course from those of our closest neighbors.

I wish to learn more about the reasoning behind your vote on this issue and I respectfully ask you to participate in a series of published editorials in Kirkland Views.
The subject matter of the series will be the city council’s stance on marijuana in Kirkland. It will be a chance to educate to public in your own words, and a chance to explain your vote regarding marijuana businesses in Kirkland.

Kirkland Views will publish your unedited explanations. They may be of any length you desire...

I thank you for your consideration and I welcome your participation.
— Kirkland Views Letter to Kirkland City Council

While other Eastside cities respond to I-502, Kirkland struggles with what to do. Some would describe the actions of our Eastside neighbors as prudent and cautionary given the many unknowns.

Legalized recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado is being watched closely by other states. This weekend on NBC's "Meet The Press," California Governor Jerry Brown expressed skepticism about legalization of marijuana, "How many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation? The world's pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together. "

“Meet the Press” host David Gregory asked Brown about the possibility of legalized recreational marijuana use in California, which Gregory described as an unthinkable prospect 40 years ago. Brown responded that he was watching Colorado and Washington — the two states currently have legalized recreational marijuana use — and that California’s medical marijuana policies were “very close” to what these states are doing. “I’d really like those two states to show us how it’s going to work,” he said.
— http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/03/02/gov-jerry-brown-on-legalized-marijuana-how-many-people-can-get-stoned-and-still-have-a-great-state/

So, as the Kirkland City Council struggles with the marijuana issue, our neighboring cities are moving forward with moratoriums, bans and restrictions on marijuana within their boarders. Why do Bellevue, Redmond, Woodinville and Issaquah city councils vote one way and Kirkland's city council votes another? 

One thing is certain: Demand for marijuana on the Eastside will be greater than the limited supply. The more our neighbors enact marijuana restrictions, moratoriums and bans, the greater the impact will be on Kirkland if we don't follow suit. Count on it.