Though pot legal, buyers may have difficulty finding stores that sell it

by: Graham Johnson Updated:


SEATTLE - Voters legalized marijuana, but that doesn't mean buyers will have an easy time finding a store that sells it.

The Association of Washington Cities says many local governments are proceeding cautiously after the passage of Initiative 502. Some have bans on marijuana businesses.

Last week, the Pierce County Council put pot businesses on hold until the state finishes writing rules for legal, recreational marijuana.

In Lakewood, city code does not mention marijuana, but the message is clear.

"If an activity is illegal at any level, state or federal, we're not going to license it," said city spokesman Jeff Brewster.

 Marijuana is illegal under federal law.

The state says it will issue marijuana business licenses regardless of local zoning.

Businesses won't be able to open without a city's permission, and some are expected to sue if they don't get it.

 "If that happens (in Lakewood), we'll just cross that bridge when we get to it," said Brewster.

Sharon Foster of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which is writing the rules for Initiative 502, says "where there isn't a retail market, the black market thrives."

The state's marijuana consultant, Mark Kleiman, says the problem of local zoning could be solved by allowing marijuana delivery services, which are not authorized in the current draft of state rules.

 "That's going to mean there are some areas that do not have retail availability and i'm sure the illicit market will be happy to fill that gap," Kleiman said.

Read more about legal pot in our special section, and see what an ounce of pot (the legal limit for possession) looks like.