In 2012, the state of Washington made history when its voters — along with voters in Colorado — legalized cannabis for recreational purposes. At the time, the new law required that marijuana businesses had to be at least 1,000 feet from places like daycare centers and parks. Last year, the state legislature reduced the buffer zone to a minimum of 100 feet, except around playgrounds and schools. (Won’t somebody please think about the children?!)
Last week, the Seattle City Council reduced the buffer zone within the city to 250 feet for those who produce and process cannabis. For retail shops, the buffer is now 250 feet in the downtown area and 500 feet everywhere else.
Now instead of being relegated to industrial zones, marijuana retailers and other cannabis businesses in Seattle can actually exist where people are. You know, just like liquor stores, bars and pharmacies.
These buffer zones of course assume that any marijuana business is a crime magnet that attracts undesirable people. Yet the aforementioned liquor stores, bars and pharmacies can fall under the same suspicions. Even banks, which are full of valuable things like stacks of money, can be considered “crime magnets.” After all, don’t they get robbed all the time? Now that we’re on the subject, so do convenience stores.
But the buffer zones have nothing to do with crime and everything to do with the stigma that still surrounds marijuana. Cannabis is not accepted by the mainstream the way liquor and pills are. Blue Collar people drink, White Collars take pills, and only dirty, slovenly hippies use marijuana. Or so the narrative goes.
Hopefully what Seattle is doing will become a trend, especially in the urban areas of states that legalize. Unleash the economic power of cannabis and let it benefit your city and state.