Closer Together

Reduced buffer zones in Seattle worry one Spokane pot shop owner

In a move that has excited some and upset others, the Seattle City Council recently agreed to reduce the minimum distance between pot shops and so-called sensitive areas (recreation centers, child-care centers, public transit centers, libraries and arcades) from 1,000 feet to 250 feet in the downtown area and 500 feet in other parts of the city.

The 1,000-foot rule, which Spokane businesses must still comply with, will remain in effect for elementary and secondary schools and public playgrounds.

There will also be a 250-foot buffer between producers and processors citywide, and no more than two cannabis shops can be within 1,000 feet, or about five city blocks, of each other.

This reduction was agreed upon in an effort to protect sensitive areas while also preventing clusters of dispensaries the council has dubbed "Little Amsterdams" from popping up around the city.

Estee Wilson, co-owner of Satori, is conflicted about the news of reduced buffer zones.

As a business owner, she understands firsthand the difficulties the 1,000-foot rule presents.

"That was probably one of the hardest things when we got our license, was to find a location," she says. "But of all the rules and regulations, that's probably lower on the totem pole for us."

As a mother of two, Wilson believes the Seattle City Council made too steep a reduction, and says the buffer zone between marijuana shops and schools should be extended beyond 1,000 feet.

"I don't think it's appropriate for us to be that close to any kind of children's center," she says. "I have two kids, and I don't really want to see a bunch of marijuana stores next to my kids' schools; I just don't think it's appropriate."

It's a balancing act that Wilson says comes with the territory of being part of an industry that's still in its infancy.

"It's tricky, and we're all just trying to make it work and make sure that we're not causing an uproar in the community," she says. "As long as they're keeping the community safe, that's our number one factor here." ♦

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