Monday, December 1, 2014

Mayor prepares to make zoning recommendations for medical marijuana businesses

During the medical marijuana symposium hosted by the Mayor's Office last month, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development shared maps of possible scenarios for medical marijuana business zoning.

Two possible scenarios would create 500 foot buffer zones between medical marijuana businesses and places where children congregate including schools, playgrounds, daycare centers, parks, and libraries.  One of those scenarios measures the buffer zones according to "how the crow flies" and one according to "common path of travel" - the shortest walking distance.  This is what the two scenarios look like in NE Seattle:

As the Crow Flies
Yellow = estimated areas for medical marijuana businesses
Gray & pink = medical marijuana businesses not allowed
Red dots = existing medical marijuana businesses
Green dots: existing medical marijuana businesses that would be allowed

Common Path of Travel

If the City decides to use a 500 foot buffer, instead of the 1,000 foot buffer required "as the crow flies" around recreational marijuana businesses, city-wide187 (as the crow flies) or 210 (common path of travel) medical marijuana businesses would potentially be allowed to remain open.  This is in addition to 21 recreational marijuana retailers and an unknown amount of recreational marijuana growers and processors in Seattle.  

Marijuana business density is of concern for teen drug use prevention efforts because research has repeatedly shown that teens who live in communities with many tobacco and alcohol businesses have high rates of tobacco and alcohol use.  A study recently published in the journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that "higher total density of medical marijuana dispensaries was related to greater likelihood of past year use of marijuana."  In other words, the more available a drug is, the higher use rates are.  

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