Last week Mayor Mike McGinn spoke to a fancy gathering organized by the National Cannabis Industry Association - which was appropriately held in Seattle. Given the passage of I-502 and our state's imminent dive into the business of weed, it was likely a sign of things to come. Seattle is poised to become an epicenter for pot entrepreneurialism.
Indeed, making sure the soon-to-be booming marijuana business aligns with Seattle's values was, by all reports, a big theme of McGinn's speech. The mayor wants pot entrepreneurs - a group that goes far beyond just weed growers - to adhere to and reflect the things Seattleites view as important - like, you know, supporting small, local businesses, being good stewards and neighbors, and eating locally. These are the mayor's words - not mine.
While exactly where pot shops can open up will be dictated by the fairly restrictive state law, Seattle appears willing to welcome these businesses - and all the tangential businesses that will accompany them - with open arms.
But in McGinn's message one couldn't help but sense just a hint of apprehension. Sure, Seattle wants to capitalize on the marijuana business, and McGinn has gone on record many times as saying our state's previous marijuana laws were unjust. But Seattle also wants weedy business folks to play by its rules.
So what if that doesn't happen, and what then?
It's the great unknown - a question with no real answer at this point. That's likely one of the reasons McGinn is making proactive statements on the subject.
One of the areas the city does hope to have some tangible leverage, however, is in the creation of guidelines under I-502. As I-502 prescribed, Washington is currently in the midst of the rule-making process, determining exactly what our new weedy frontier will look like - including the details of licensing, how many pot outlets can operate in a county, and how much weed these outlets can have on hand.
"As I understand it, the Liquor Control Board has some latitude as they consider a variety of factors determining the number of licenses. These factors include, in part, population, security, access, and amount of marijuana on site," says Pickus, citing RCW 69.50.345. "We would like these rules to be set in a way that allows for small, local businesses to participate in this new sector of the economy."