Seattle Opens More Real Estate to Marijuana Shops

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The Seattle City Council on Monday approved new zoning regulations that would loosen zoning requirements on marijuana stores and expand the locations where they can operate, the Seattle Times reported.

The council voted to reduce buffers to 500 feet between marijuana stores and community gathering places like libraries and parks. The required buffer from cannabis retail locations to schools and playgrounds will remain 1,000 feet. The council also mandated 1,000 feet buffers between marijuana stores to prevent clustering.

In some parts of the city that attract tourists, however, the council reduced marijuana shop buffers to 250 feet. In the downtown district, buffers were also reduced to 250 feet for cultivators and processors, which are considered less visible than marijuana stores.

The proposals add about 1,600 new acres of real estate available to marijuana dispensaries, the Seattle Times said.

Earlier this year, the Washington Liquor Control Board started a plan to merge medical and recreational marijuana stores. The plan is expected to force many existing dispensaries in the city to close, but will double the number of marijuana stores from 21 to 42.