Two more recreational marijuana retailers have been approved for Olympia, bringing the city’s total number of outlets to four.
Green Lady Marijuana and A Bud and Leaf are already open on the city’s east side. This month, the state Liquor and Cannabis Board awarded retail licenses to Northwest Express, 234 Division St. NW, and THC of Olympia, 3203 Martin Way E.
Opening dates for the two new locations have not been announced. Several other retail applications are still listed as pending.
Not everyone is happy with the latest round of retail licenses. In January, several medical marijuana activists filed a lawsuit against the Liquor and Cannabis Board, alleging that new applicants have received licensing priority over longtime medical collectives and those that applied for the first round of retail licenses.
All medical marijuana storefronts and collectives without a recreational retail license must close by July 1, according to state regulations.
After a public hearing Tuesday, the Olympia City Council voted to keep temporary zoning regulations in place for recreational marijuana retailers. The zoning was first approved as an emergency ordinance Dec. 15, ahead of the Liquor and Cannabis Board’s plan to issue more recreational retail licenses. In January, the board raised the cap on licenses statewide from 334 to 556 retailers.
Under the new zoning, an additional 427 properties in Olympia have become eligible for recreational marijuana sales. That brings the city’s total to 670 eligible properties. The change primarily affects high-density commercial and medical zones in west Olympia, including the area where Northwest Express is located.
The state still requires a 1,000-foot buffer between a recreational marijuana store and any schools or playgrounds. However, the city’s zoning ordinance reduces the buffer to 500 feet in cases where land use is restricted, such as near parks or public transit.
Chris Grabowski, code enforcement officer for Olympia, said the state will be responsible for any enforcement involving the city’s 11 medical marijuana collectives. Following the legal “sunset” for the collectives, city staff will draft a permanent zoning ordinance for final council approval in the fall, he said.
At Tuesday’s hearing, a handful of representatives from Green Lady Marijuana suggested the council add a “disbursement clause” to avoid clustering marijuana retailers too close together. They cited an example in Everett, where zoning regulations mandate that “marijuana retailers may not locate within 2,500 feet of any other legally established marijuana retailer.”