Spokane releases pot retail map

SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane has released a preliminary map of areas around the city where recreational pot shops will be allowed to open.

The map is preliminary and could still change once the Washington State Liquor Control Board finalizes regulations for legalizing marijuana in the wake of the passage of Initiative 502 in November.

The shops have to be 1,000 feet from schools, libraries, playgrounds, childcare and recreational centers, and parks.

The areas include part of the shopping center near 29th Avenue and Southeast Boulevard on the South Hill, Highway 2 near the Airway Heights city limits has a large area available, which includes a former Whitman Bank branch available for lease with a drive-thru.

Parts of Hillyard along Market are also included. "Liquor and More" convenience store owner Paul Garcha is thinking about changing his store's name.

Spokane marijuana map

"I'll definitely be interested, there's going to be a market for it. Everyone will be getting it," Garcha said.

Garcha found out Wednesday that his store is on the city's new map of places marijuana shops can open in December.

"Now that I know, yeah, I wasn't aware this was one of the strips," he said.

"It's really hard to envision when you just read the initiative so we needed a visualization of it," Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder said.

Snyder had the city planning department create the map. He wants Spokane to be ready when the Liquor Control Board finalizes its rules on retail stores, to "be able to give those business owners a very clear idea of what they need to do to be good members of our community."

As for Garcha, he's considering switching his store to a marijuana shop, though the taxes on the state's newest industry might keep him away.

"Like with liquor, it was profitable, and then with the fees in the state the profit has pretty much been taken out of the liquor business," he said.

The city planning department said before anyone starts buying up property or shutting down business, the map is preliminary. The city still has to wait for the Liquor Control Board to finish completing all the guidelines.

The Board is scheduled to issue retailer licenses in mid-November which would then become effective Dec. 1.