Question: “How about a story on the new HWY420 marijuana store located next door to the Silverdale Pee Wee ball fields? [It’s] within 1,000 feet of the property line of a youth facility.” — Ed
Answer: I contacted Ed, who says he didn’t have anything against the folks at HWY420. “They seem to be decent folks,” he said. He was concerned that it appeared the state Liquor and Cannabis Board wasn’t enforcing the rules.
According to the board’s website, you cannot set up a cannabis retail store “within 1,000 feet of any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, library, or game arcade that allows minors to enter.”
Using Google Earth on his computer, Ed said he measured the distance from the marijuana store to the closest point on the Ross Field Pee Wee property, and it appeared to only be 990 feet.
“The law’s the law,” Ed said. “Why isn’t it being enforced?”
Good question, Ed.
The short answer is that, in this case, the law is being enforced — but maybe not for the reason you would expect.
Brian Smith, the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board communications director, told me that the agency uses a Global Information System that is more accurate than Google Earth to measure the distance when an application is received. If there is any question, then licensed agency investigators are sent out to measure the distance physically, he said.
But that doesn’t matter in this case, he said, because the Pee Wee League field isn’t covered by the law.
Smith explained that the term “public” in the regulation means just that. The distance law applies only to schools, recreation centers, playgrounds, etc., that are owned by a local, county, state or federal government.
Ross Field, the ball field in question, is privately owned by the non-profit Silverdale Pee Wee Adult Association, so it is not a public recreation center.
Therefore, the 1,000-foot rule doesn’t apply.
Smith said he had gotten the same question from homeowners’ associations who wanted to know if the 1,000-foot distance rule applied to playgrounds in their neighborhoods.
And the answer was the same: No. “Public” means the general public in the eyes of the law.
HWY 420 owner Annette Atkinson was sympathetic to Ed’s concern when I contacted her. When the Silverdale HWY420 store opened recently (the original store is in Bremerton), Atkinson hired a sign spinner with a HWY420 sign to draw attention to the new store. One day, someone from the Pee Wee League visited the store, she said. They told her they were having a game that day and wondered if it was appropriate for the sign spinner to be out performing along the highway. Atkinson said she immediately had the spinner stop and asked for a Pee Wee game schedule so it wouldn’t happen again.
“We want to be good neighbors,” Atkinson said.
You can learn more about the ins and outs of the marijuana regulations by going to the state’s FAQs page, http://lcb.wa.gov/marj/marijuana -2017.
— Terryl Asla is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. Have a question about an issue you’d like him to explore? He can be reached at tasla@sound publishing.com.