City Attorney: Seattle needs at least 50 pot shops

by: Graham Johnson Updated:

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SEATTLE, Wash. - Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes says there should be at least 50 legal pot stores in Seattle, instead of the 21 the state is planning to license.

"At minimum, we need to double it," Holmes said Wednesday.

Holmes said the larger number is needed to meet demand and effectively compete with the black market.

"We know that prohibition didn't work and we've got to demonstrate an alternative that does work," Holmes said.

In a letter asking the Washington State Liquor Control Board to make changes before adopting final rules for Initiative 502, Holmes also requested that current medical marijuana shops meeting I-502 standards be given preference for licenses.

"The more we can on-board existing facilities, the less likely they are to be competitors of the legal system as well," Holmes said.

Citing concerns by the federal government, the state will not allow marijuana businesses within a 1,000 feet of the perimeter of parks, schools and playgrounds, which puts a lot of Seattle off-limits.

Holmes wants the state to change the way that 1,000 feet is calculated.

He says a "common path of travel" measurement should be used for recreation centers, child care centers, public parks (other than playgrounds), public transit centers, libraries and all-ages game arcades.

Holmes suggests an "as the crow flies" measurement continue to be used for schools and playgrounds, which has a 1,000-foot setback in the federal Drug Free Schools and Communities Act.

Brian Smith of the Liquor Control Board wrote to KIRO 7 that the Board has not yet reviewed Holmes' letter.

"The final rules are based on extensive public input. I do not see the Board modifying the rules at this point. As legal recreational marijuana is an emerging market, the Board is likely to look at options over time as the market establishes itself with licensed producers, processors, and retailers," Smith wrote.