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Tacoma: Where would recreational pot operations be allowed?

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on May 16, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
May 17, 2013 12:23 am

Nearly all of Tacoma’s Tide Flats,  swaths in Northeast Tacoma and along the Narrows in the West End, and pockets here and there throughout the city.

These are the places where, on first blush, recreational pot operations might be allowed in Tacoma. But, under language restricting where such operations are allowed under state law, Tacoma largely resembles a limited pot shop kind of town.

Or that’s what an early draft of an I-502 city planning map seems to suggest.

With the news today from Olympia about the state Liquor Control Board’s draft rules for recreational marijuana operations,  we wondered where exactly in the City of Tacoma such operations would be allowed.

On Wednesday, Tacoma Planning Division Manager Brian Boudet provided us with  the city’s “best estimate” to date “of how the proposed language in I-502 about where marijuana operations would not be allowed relates to existing uses in the City.”

Accompanying Boudet’s emailed explanations was a planning map with lots of pink blotches that shows where recreational pot operations would be restricted under the 1,000-foot buffer language of Initiative 502, the ballot measure passed by Washington voters last year that essentially legalized recreational marijuana.

“The pink bubbles essentially represent the areas precluded for any marijuana operation by the initiative, which includes areas within 1,000 feet of elementary or secondary schools, playgrounds, recreation centers or facilities, child care centers, public parks, public transit centers, libraries, and game arcades,” Boudet said.

“I would note that while we believe this map is pretty accurate,” Boudet added, “it is likely not perfect as there aren’t necessarily perfect records on where some of these kinds of uses are located and some of them are not as clearly defined in the initiative as they probably could be (like “playgrounds”).

The map also doesn’t provide any further analysis of how the city’s existing zoning could further restrict such operations, though some general assumptions can be made (e.g. residential areas, such as Northeast Tacoma, generally restrict retail operations; but retail is generally allowed in mixed use and industrial zones, such as the Tideflats).

Based on the available map, retail marijuana storefronts most likely would be allowed in those areas outside of pink blotches and in the darker-colored zones on the map, which generally allow for retail uses.  So, that limits such marijuana operations in Tacoma even further.

As the state’s new rules come more clearly into focus, city officials said Tacoma’s recreational marijuana planning will, too.

“As with many others,” Boudet said Wednesday, “we are very interested to see what those draft state rules look like.”

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