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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane County to zone marijuana away from neighborhoods

Spokane County commissioners said Tuesday they want to keep the state’s new legal marijuana business away from neighborhoods.

Commissioners said the new recreational marijuana trade, approved by voters in Initiative 502 last November, would be allowed to thrive in land-use zones most appropriate for that activity.

Retail sales would be allowed in light industrial and regional commercial areas, not in neighborhood zones or smaller commercial areas. The same zoning would be used to regulate processing facility locations.

Licenses for growing operations would be allowed in agricultural, light industrial, mineral and regional commercial zones.

The designations will not need any formal action by the commissioners but will be handled through interpretation of the zoning code by the planning director.

The commissioners are essentially following the same path as the Spokane City Council by limiting locations where marijuana could be grown, processed and sold.

Under rules adopted by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, Spokane County will be allowed up to 18 retail licenses, with eight of those in the city of Spokane, seven in the unincorporated county and three in Spokane Valley.

Those shops will be allowed to sell only marijuana, marijuana-infused products and paraphernalia. Also, they cannot be within 1,000 feet of an elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center, child care center, park, transit center, library or arcade.

There are no limits on the number of licenses for growing or processing facilities. However, growing facilities will be limited to a total of 2 million square feet statewide.

Growing and production facilities each have their own separate licenses. Producers or processors cannot hold retail licenses.

Commissioners said they could add additional local regulations in the future.

Local governments will get a chance to comment on license applications as well as appeal individual licensing decisions.

Many have expressed interest in getting into the business.

“We are getting lots of phone calls, lots of inquiries,” said John Pederson, county planning director.

He described one proposal for a growing operation in a mining zone.

A 30-day application window starts Nov. 18. Recreational marijuana may be available to customers by the middle of next year.

Two seminars in Spokane today on the law and rules are booked full, according to the website used to reserve spaces at the seminars.

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