City of Seattle Buffer Law

Last week the City of Seattle instituted a new policy regarding the 1000 foot buffer rule for marijuana businesses. These changes help, and hurt, those in the industry depending on what type of license is held. Here are the final conditions:

  1. For Any 502 business/license:
    • 1000 feet from any elementary school, secondary school, or playground as defined in WAC 314-55.
  2. Retail 502 business/license:
    • 500 feet from child care centers, game arcades, libraries, public parks, public transit centers, or recreation center/facilities except in Downtown Mixed Residential, Downtown Mixed Commercial, and within Downtown Urban Center west of I-5, North of Yesler, and South of Denny Way where the 1000 foot rule will remain active.
    • 1000 feet from any other retail 502 business. Based on the property line, not door to door.
  3. Non-Retail 502 business/license:
    • 250 feet from child care centers, game arcades, libraries, public parks, public transit centers, or recreation center/facilities.

All determinations and distance measurements will be based on the location of entities as of the date the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board issues a “Notice of Marijuana Application” to the City of Seattle. Subsequent changes will not be considered.

The reductions from the 1000 foot rule are likely to help those in the industry to find suitable locations that were previously hard to come by. The biggest hurdle now created by this change is the 1000 foot buffer between retail businesses. It is hard to find the first location that complies with all of the restrictions and now the adjacent structures that would also comply will be disqualified based on who moves in first.

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