Stanwood City Council allows a single recreational pot shop

The city will begin accepting applications on Monday. Much of downtown Stanwood is off limits.

STANWOOD — After months of debate, the Stanwood City Council has voted to allow a retail marijuana store in town.

The council voted 4-2 to approve the new rules Thursday. Though the change allows for one recreational marijuana shop in the city, no such business applications have been approved. Officials won’t take applications until Monday, when the rules take effect, City Administrator Ryan Larsen said.

Washington voters in November 2012 approved Initiative 502, legalizing the sale of marijuana for recreational use for those 21 and older. Sales began in Washington in July 2014. Stanwood was among a number of cities where leaders decided to prohibit marijuana businesses, at least temporarily.

The Stanwood Planning Commission this March voted to forward proposed rules for retail marijuana to the City Council.

People weighed in during public hearings and in written comments. A shop’s possible location, particularly in the downtown business area, was a key concern.

State law requires that marijuana businesses not be near a school, playground, recreation center, daycare, park, transit center or library. Much of downtown Stanwood is off limits.

However, several spots, including along some of the main business streets, would have been allowed. The city tightened its rules so that a marijuana retailer cannot have frontage on 271st Street NW, 88th Avenue NW or Pioneer Highway, according to city documents.

A number of people asked city leaders to put an advisory measure on the ballot to determine public opinion on marijuana shops in the city.

In Stanwood, 1,401 ballots were cast in favor of the 2012 initiative that legalized recreational marijuana, and 1,373 against it, according to the Snohomish County Auditor’s office.

Opponents wrote emails or showed up to city meetings over the past few months. Some were in favor of legal marijuana, but not a shop in their town.

“I am not against marijuana, particularly for the majority of proponents who have shared how medical marijuana was instrumental in normalizing their life from the pain of illness or accident,” one person wrote in an email to city leaders. “But none assured that a few minutes more of a drive to the Bud Hut would be a hardship.”

The Bud Hut is a retail marijuana store on Camano Island, off Highway 532 about 2 miles from downtown Stanwood.

Stanwood would receive additional tax revenue from retail marijuana sales if a shop locates in the city, according to a staff report.

The city received a business license application in January for a marijuana retailer. It was denied based on the rules in place at the time, but triggered conversations about where shops should or should not be allowed.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439;

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