Thursday, August 8, 2013

Washington Cities Disagree Over Welcoming Legal Marijuana Businesses

This past winter, Washington became one of the first states to legalize the use of personal marijuana for adults 21 years and older. Those of legal age can possess up to one ounce of marijuana legally, which before was considered a misdemeanor charge.

Yet, this new profound freedom has raised some concerns for the citizens of Washington. From zoning regulations to the effects it will have on the youth population, these issues must be addressed before moving forward.

Each city in Washington has decided to handle marijuana businesses differently. Seattle and Shoreline are already moving ahead with zoning and other local rules. Kent and University Place, however, are not. In fact, there may be many cities who do not welcome the legal marijuana business into their limits—and they will do so by not zoning for these businesses.

"I don't think an individual or the state has the right to force us into welcoming pot commerce.
                                                --Steve Victor, University Place

The Seattle City Council is planning to adopt new zoning rules later this month that will provide guidelines for having marijuana retailers near youth venues. By setting strict restrictions on retailers the City Council will be able to regulate the amount of businesses allowed in the area.

While Seattle is already home to over 150 medical marijuana businesses, the main issue however still remains on how the federal government will dictate the new legalization. City officials are worried about losing their federal grants and having their employees prosecuted if they allow the regulation of marijuana. Since state laws cannot change federal government standards this issue is still up for debate.

Ultimately, however, the courts will determine how things will play out. Things seem to be moving in the right direction for Washington and the other states going through the legalization process. Like all major changes, it becomes a balancing act of outweighing the pros and cons of each issue. By addressing all of the concerns in the beginning, the overall outcome will result in an easier transition into the legalization process. 

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