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City challenges state on Island marijuana lottery winner

On Thursday, June 5, the City of Mercer Island sent notice to the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) informing it that Tom's Stuff, the single lottery winner awarded a bid for a recreational marijuana storefront on the Island, didn't comply with state law.

“The proposed location is in what is commonly known as the 'Thomas Center'...The property line for the Thomas Center abuts a public park to the west (North Mercerdale Hillside Park),” wrote Scott Greenberg in an email addressed to Kim Gabbard of the WSLCB. “Since the property line of the proposed business location abuts a public park, the proposed location does not comply with I-502 nor with WAC 314-55-050(10) and should be denied.”

Tom's Stuff, which lists Thomas Green as its owner and an address of 7513 S.E. 27th St., Unit A, is an office condo. State law prohibits pot shops from opening within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, child care centers, recreational facilities, transit centers and libraries. As the details of legalization began to crystallize last fall, the city released a map demonstrating that tight city zoning effectively banned any pot stores on the island. Because the island is heavily residential and has many parks, applicants were left with nowhere to go. Still, five submitted applications listing a Mercer Island address.

“I wish I knew,” said Greenberg, when asked how the Liquor Control Board could have overlooked the awardee’s proximity to a park. “I think this is a straightforward issue. But I’m not the one approving the permits. At this point, the state is.”

Other Eastside cities have encountered similar issues.

Greenberg said that somebody representing the applicant had called the city. Staff passed on the email it had addressed to Gabbard. Right now the city has no official role in the rollout of legalization. Theoretically, said Greenberg, if the applicant requested a building permit, the city could grant him that much, even if efforts were halted down the line.

“Nothing has been issued, no marijuana license,” said Greenberg. “This is just the sole survivor of the five who initially applied.”

The Liquor Control Board is reviewing the application for Tom's Stuff. Greenberg said he expects it will be canceled.

For more about the implementation of I-502, visit: www.liq.wa.gov/marijuana/I-502

 

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