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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: initiative 502

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January 28, 2015 at 6:20 AM

Should marijuana home grows be legal in Washington?

2015 is going to be a big year in marijuana policy and politics. But the most provocative question in pot has yet to be heard in Olympia, or even debated much: legalizing home growing. Grow this at home? (Ellen M. Banner / Seattle Times) Seattle Democrat Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, the Legislature’s senior stateswoman on marijuana, proposes allowing six-plant…

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Comments | Topics: initiative 502, marijuana, state Legislature

September 12, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Are cities being racially discriminatory in banning legal marijuana?

Recreational Marijuana Ordinances across Washington (Click image to view graphic interactive)

Recreational marijuana ordinances across Washington (Click image to view graphic interactive)

The growing number of cities and counties in Washington opting out of Washington’s marijuana legalization experiment is eating away at the foundation of Initiative 502, as a Seattle Times editorial in Thursday’s paper suggested. The lack of stores in widening swaths of the state perpetuates the black market and maintains underground access of youth.

A new lawsuit filed in Benton County Superior Court against Kennewick’s ban takes the argument further: Bans are also racially discriminatory. The suit, filed on behalf of a would-be marijuana company, suggests that Kennewick’s ban (as well as similar prohibitions in all three Tri-Cities and Franklin County) push the underground marijuana trade to poorer neighborhoods. Since marijuana is a cash cow for gangs, they’ll continue to battle for turf.

Quoting from the lawsuit:

“Gang warfare is a natural consequence of cannabis prohibition in Kennewick and the Tri-Cities region. Gangs engage in street warfare to protect their ‘turf,’ the physical location, often a public street corner or park, or territory in which they sell drugs.”

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Comments | Topics: alison holcomb, initiative 502, marijuana

March 6, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Today the day for Attorney General Eric Holder memo on Washington, Colorado marijuana legalization?

UPDATE: 7:18 a.m. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama administration was “still considering” the federal response to voter-approved marijuana legalization laws in Washington and Colorado. Given the chance by Senate Judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy to make an announcement, Holder said a response would be coming soon. Leahy, citing cuts to the Justice Department under sequestration,…

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Comments | Topics: eric holder, initiative 502, marijuana

February 25, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Opening a legal marijuana store in Seattle? Prepare to get gouged

As Washington’s Liquor Control Board bulls its way toward licensing hundreds of marijuana growers and retailers, there is a “green rush” of real estate hunting. And its definitely a seller’s market.

One unnamed party recently paid a $50,000 premium — above the lease rate — for a storefront outside of Seattle. Greta Carter, a Seattle marijuana activist passed on the tip, said the leaser paid it because the location was a prime spot, albeit grudgingly. “We’re accustomed to paying a premium in the cannabis industry, but you cross a line when you want $50,000 up front,” she said.

And it’s only going to be worse as legalized marijuana stores authorized by Initiative 502 come on line. To give I-502 a better chance of passing, it included 1,000-foot exclusion zones around schools, parks, transit centers, even game arcades. That excludes most of Seattle, as well as good chunks for dense Pugetopolis. This map  by Seattle Department of Planning and Zoning shows the I-502-friendly zones in yellow, and zones legal for medical marijuana dispensaries in blue. Other big cities, including Spokane, are working on similar maps.

Even if you find an urban, I-502-friendly sliver — notice that prime spot at 23rd Avenue and East Union Street on Capitol Hill? — finding landlords willing to talk to the marijuana industry shrinks options further. And if you’re real estate hunting for an I-502 storefront, you’ll need enough cash to tie up the parcel for a year or more; the Liquor Control Board is not expecting to issue marijuana retailer licenses until December, at the earliest.

But Tom Gordon, a real estate broker who specializes in the marijuana industry, said that hasn’t slowed interest. “There’s probably 10-12-15 people calling on the same property, people from out of town,” said Gordon, of I-5 Realty.

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Comments | Topics: initiative 502, marijuana