by: Graham Johnson Updated:
SEATTLE - The Seattle City Council approved a landmark zoning ordinance Monday after months of discussion.
Because state law prevents pot businesses from setting up within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and day cares, they will be effectively confined to industrial land and some commercial areas.
The heaviest industrial areas near the Port of Seattle will be largely off-limits to pot growers after business groups raised concerns about traditional industry being priced out by marijuana businesses.
"Marijuana on a per-square-foot basis will probably generate more money than the Boeing 737 plant does," said Dave Gering of the Manufacturing Industrial Council.
"I think that's ridiculous," said Ben Livingston of the Center for Legal Cannabis. "I don't think pot growers are going to displace current port businesses."
Livingston has created detailed online maps showing where businesses can go, and charges for access.
Existing marijuana grows in the newly-prohibited zones will be allowed to stay, provided they are less than 5,000 square feet.
The new city ordinance sets the maximum size for marijuana growing operations at 20,000 square feet in some areas, even though the state will allow them as large as 30,000 square feet.
The city ordinance also requires medical marijuana businesses to comply with the new rules by January 2015 and obtain a state license.
Right now, there are no state licenses for medical marijuana. The state legislature is expected to take that issue up next year.
In the meantime, medical cannabis businesses are very concerned about the new ordinance.
Steve Sarich of the Cannabis Action Coalition was visibly angry as he gave public comments before the city council.
"You've declared war on the patients of the State of Washington and the patients of Seattle," Sarich told the council. "The four of you who are up for re-election, we'll be gunning for you. And the next election in 2015, we'll be gunning for the rest of you."
The council passed the zoning ordinance 8-0. Tom Rasmussen was absent.