By this time next month, Tacoma could have temporary rules for where marijuana-related businesses can operate — rules that would be a bit more restrictive than what the state requires.
The state’s first retail marijuana shops could open next year under a law voters approved last year allowing recreational marijuana use and sales.
Initiative 502 forbids marijuana growing, processing or sales within 1,000 feet of eight areas, including schools, parks, libraries and public transit centers.
Tacoma’s proposed rules would maintain the state’s 1,000-foot buffer, but add jails and detention centers, detox and rehabilitation centers, and courthouses to the list of facilities requiring a perimeter.
The Port of Tacoma is asking the city to further restrict pot sales.
The port is not opposed to having marijuana growing and processing operations in its area, said Evette Mason, the government affairs manager for the port. However, it is opposed to having retail pot shops in the port maritime industrial district on the Tideflats.
Mason testified Tuesday night during the city’s public hearing about the proposed land-use regulations for marijuana businesses. She said people seeking retail weed might get lost or not safely navigate the many train tracks that cross the port’s land.
“To us, it’s a safety issue,” she said. “Potential customers are not accustomed to the distinctive nature of the Tideflats.”
But with marijuana sales restricted to commercial, industrial and mixed-use zones in Tacoma’s proposed land-use regulations, the city doesn’t have much room left to locate the eight retail outlets the state says Tacoma can have, said Ryan Agnew, a lobbyist for I-502.
In addition to the state’s prohibition on pot delivery services, Tacoma would forbid roadside and drive-through sales — or sales anywhere outside of a licensed retail marijuana retail location, said Tacoma Planning Division Manager Brian Boudet. Tacoma’s rules would also prevent retailers from selling marijuana at farmers markets or in a taco truck, he said.
The state will begin accepting marijuana business license applications on Nov. 18, with sales expected to begin by the middle of next year.
But it could take up to a year for Tacoma’s planning commission and City Council to create permanent land-use rules that will govern where recreational marijuana businesses can be.
That’s because the state’s laws on medical marijuana continue to evolve, Boudet said. The city wants to wait until the Legislature decides if and how to merge medical marijuana patients into the state’s regulatory system for recreational pot.
The Tacoma City Council will discuss the city’s proposed interim rules again at its Oct. 29 meeting, with adoption possible as soon as Nov. 5.