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Background - Marijuana Licensing

Background - Recreational Marijuana Licensing

In 2012 Washington voters passed Initiative I-502 legalizing possession, sales, processing, and production of marijuana. In July 2013, the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB)* issued proposed regulations for issuing licenses to sell, process, and produce marijuana. The WSLCB originally intended the regulations to go into effect by mid-September 2013, but after receiving public input, decided to revise the regulations and delay the licensing process.(*NOTE: New agency name is Washington State Cannabis Control Board)

On October 16, 2013, the WSLCB adopted the proposed rules which became effective on November 16, 2013. The LCB accepted applications for all license types (producer, processer and retailer) through December 20, 2013.

The Kirkland City Council considered whether to create special zoning regulations for marijuana and chose to all marijuana sales, processing and production of marijuana in zones where those activities are already allowed subject to the existing zoning regulations. On January 21, 2014, the City Council considered this issue again and reviewed options for regulating the sale of recreational marijuana in Kirkland's commercial zones.

In response to citizen concerns, the Council directed that interim regulations be prepared for consideration and held a public hearing on February 4, 2014. Ordinance 4434 was adopted prohibiting retail marijuana sales in the Market Street Corridor 1 Zone.

On March 18, 2014, the Council held a second Public Hearing to consider revising the interim regulations it adopted on February 4, 2014. The Council unanimously approved Ordinance 4439 which establishes interim regulations that allow marijuana sales in certain Light Industrial Zones and prohibits the use in the MSC 1 and 2 Zones and along adopted Kirkland School Walk Routes.

On June 3, 2014 the City Council considered concerns about marijuana sales in the Norkirk Neighborhood Light Industrial Technology (LIT) Zone. The Council held a public hearing on June 17, 2014 and adopted Ordinance 4446 which allows retail sale of marijuana in Light Industrial Technology (LIT) zones only where at least 50 percent of the boundaries of the zone are contiguous to commercial zones.

On September 16, 2014, following a public hearing, the City Council extended the interim zoning regulations for six months by adopting Ordinance 4453.

Following a public hearing on Oct. 21, 2014, the City Council adopted interim regulations to control odors (PDF) from production and processing marijuana businesses by adopting Ordinance 4462. These interim regulations expire in April 2015.

Also on Oct. 21, the City Council gave the direction to move forward with permanent regulations for marijuana that are to be drafted based on the current interim zoning regulations. It is anticipated that the permanent regulations will be adopted prior to the expiration of the interim retail regulations in March 2015.

On January 22, 2015, the Planning Commission held a public hearing (PDF) to consider regulations pertaining to the retail sale, production and processing of marijuana and products containing marijuana.

On March 3, 2015, the City Council unanimously approved Ordinance 4479, adopting regulations for marijuana retailing, production, and processing.View the current zoning map for eligible and ineligible marijuana retail areas per I-502 and City regulations. (PDF)

During the 2015 session, the Washington State Legislature passed Senate Bill 5052, the Cannabis Patient Protection Act, which is intended to reconcile Washington State's unregulated medical and highly-regulated recreational marijuana systems. Visit the WSLCB website at

To view the staff memo and watch the video of any City Council meeting, go to the On-Demand webpage and select the date of the meeting.​