Legal pot businesses apparently not welcome everywhere

SEATTLE -- A meeting was held Tuesday night about the challenges ahead in setting up legal marijuana businesses, and concerns were raised that some communities apparently want no part of the pot industry -- even though legal under state law.

David Ahl, a co-owner of Greenside Medical marijuana business in Seattle, said, “It’s been very safe here and a good business.”

In fact, the business has been so successful that Ahl and his co-owner would like to expand to the Eastside.

“I think the reality is it was the next stop, so people don't have to drive all the way to Seattle just to get their medicine,” said co-owner Seth Simpson.

The city of Bellevue gave them a business license, and they found a place on Main Street that followed the standard rule of not being within 1,000 feet of any school, church or park. They thought they were all set.

But their lawyer says that's when Bellevue put on the brakes.

“It appears that they do not want this type of business, especially in their downtown corridor,” said attorney Kurt Boel.

The city passed emergency regulations stating where collective gardens can be, and though many cities like Seattle allow dispensaries, Bellevue's legal planner said she considers them illegal both on the state and federal level.

“Fellas, give it up,” said John Davis, a longtime marijuana activist and West Seattle dispensary owner, who added that he met with Bellevue’s city attorney in the past and the message was clear – No marijuana businesses in Bellevue.

“Will they have to allow cannabis businesses in? No, and a lot of places out there are not going to,” he said.

“Just because it's legal doesn't mean localities can't zone it pretty much out of existence,” said Davis.

It's one of the many challenges for those who want to get into the legal pot business, when the state sets rules, and pot retailers begin opening for business alongside the dispensaries.

Clearly, the conversation with some communities may hit a dead end.

But at Greenside Medical they hold out hope, and are ready for a fight.

“We are willing to take it all the way to court if we have to,” said Ahl. “We will fight for what we believe in.”