February 15, 2014 in Washington Voices

Spokane Valley narrows where marijuana can be sold

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Finding a place to legally sell pot in Spokane Valley is getting tougher.

Much of Sprague Avenue is now off limits, for example, because of interim zoning regulations adopted by the City Council earlier this week that include extra restrictions on where recreational marijuana can be produced, processed and sold.

City leaders decided Tuesday night to require 1,000-foot buffer zones around recreational trails as well as vacant land earmarked for future schools or libraries within city limits. The state already prohibits pot shops within 1,000 feet of schools and parks.

The extra local restrictions were proposed after state Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued a legal opinion last month advising that the voter-approved initiative legalizing adult marijuana use doesn’t appear to prohibit cities from banning pot shops. Spokane Valley City Council members never discussed an outright ban but opted to explore additional restrictions.

Under the interim regulations, the buffer zone would be required along the Centennial Trail, which follows the Spokane River, and the planned Appleway Trail, which will parallel much of Sprague Avenue through the heart of the city. The planned pedestrian and bicycle trail is being built on the old Milwaukee Railroad right-of-way stretching east from the Spokane Transit transfer station at University Road.

The interim regulations can remain in effect for up to six months, said Assistant City Attorney Erik Lamb. A public hearing is scheduled for March 25.

Lamb said city staff will develop final regulations for council consideration later this year.

Although the ballot measure approving adult recreational marijuana use received overwhelming voter approval statewide in 2012, it received a much narrower margin of support among Spokane Valley voters. Liberty Lake is among the few communities where most voters opposed it.

Isaac Curtis, who has applied for a marijuana processing license, told council members he appreciated their willingness to push forward despite the uncertainty that remains at the state and federal levels.

Curtis said his proposed location complies with the additional local restrictions.

The state has limited Spokane Valley to just three licensed retail marijuana stores.

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