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Int J Drug Policy. 2017 Apr;42:102-108. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.02.010. Epub 2017 Mar 30.

Community-level policy responses to state marijuana legalization in Washington State.

Author information

1
Multnomah County Health Department and Oregon Public Health Division, Program Design & Evaluation Services, 800 NE Oregon Street, Suite 260, Portland, OR 97232, USA. Electronic address: julia.dilley@state.or.us.
2
Public Health-Seattle & King County Assessment, Policy Development & Evaluation Unit, 401 Fifth Avenue, Ste. 1300, Seattle, WA 98104-1823, USA.
3
King County Assessment, Policy Development & Evaluation Unit and Chronic Disease & Injury Prevention Unit, 401 Fifth Avenue, Ste. 1300, Seattle, WA 98104-1823, USA.
4
Multnomah County Health Department and Oregon Public Health Division, Program Design & Evaluation Services, 800 NE Oregon Street, Suite 260, Portland, OR 97232, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Washington State (WA) legalized a recreational marijuana market - including growing, processing and retail sales - through voter initiative 502 in November 2012. Legalized recreational marijuana retail sales began in July 2014. In response to state legalization of recreational marijuana, some cities and counties within the state have passed local ordinances that either further regulated marijuana markets, or banned them completely. The purpose of this study is to describe local-level marijuana regulations on recreational retail sales within the context of a state that had legalized a recreational marijuana market.

METHODS:

Marijuana-related ordinances were collected from all 142 cities in the state with more than 3000 residents and from all 39 counties. Policies that were in place as of June 30, 2016 - two years after the state's recreational market opening - to regulate recreational marijuana retail sales within communities were systematically coded.

RESULTS:

A total of 125 cities and 30 counties had passed local ordinances to address recreational marijuana retail sales. Multiple communities implemented retail market bans, including some temporary bans (moratoria) while studying whether to pursue other policy options. As of June 30, 2016, 30% of the state population lived in places that had temporarily or permanently banned retail sales. Communities most frequently enacted zoning policies explicitly regulating where marijuana businesses could be established. Other policies included in ordinances placed limits on business hours and distance requirements (buffers) between marijuana businesses and youth-related land use types or other sensitive areas.

CONCLUSIONS:

State legalization does not necessarily result in uniform community environments that regulate recreational marijuana markets. Local ordinances vary among communities within Washington following statewide legalization. Further study is needed to describe how such local policies affect variation in public health and social outcomes.

KEYWORDS:

Cannabis; Marijuana legalization; Public health policy

PMID:
28365192
PMCID:
PMC5473373
DOI:
10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.02.010
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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