SPOKANE, Wash. — A group of people met outside a downtown Spokane marijuana shop to protest Monday morning and advocate for an initiative that would keep pot shops 1,000 feet away from churches.
The shop they chose to protest is called Lucky Leaf. The pot shop opened on 1st avenue in downtown Spokane in March of 2016.
It has been a year since Lucky Leaf opened and the protesters want them gone for being too close to a church one street over.
"Right now, this Lucky Leaf right here is 700 feet away from the church,” John Ahern, member of the protest group, said.
The group wants a law passed that would keep pot shops 1,000 feet away from churches. They've collected 3,200 signatures and are working to put their initiative in front of the City council.
“When they passed the original pot shop bill they kept schools a thousand feet away and also libraries,” Ahern said. “But left out churches, synagogues, and mosques.”
Lucky Leaf Manager Justin Fulton says the issue is nothing new and they have been dealing with it since they moved in downtown.
"We don't advocate children using marijuana or want it anywhere around them as with anything else,” Fulton said. “We're just a business trying to make it just like anywhere else."
The group pushing for change points the finger at pot shops saying they are to blame for crime downtown. Protesters are using break-ins at Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral, just a street over from the pot shop, as examples for their cause.
"Lucky leaf is not to blame for crime in the city,” Fulton said.
The group said they are not trying to stop the sale of marijuana, rather, they want more restrictions to protect the community.
In addition to a law keeping pot shops 1,000 feet away from churches the group want marijuana shops to stop advertising on billboards.
“We just want it to be more safe for our children,” one protester said.
The Lucky Leaf Manager said moving further away from the church would be tough on their business.
"It would put a lot of stress on the owners.” Fulton said. “We came up from the tri-cities with one license, we were shut down there because of a ban.”
The advocacy group would like the public to decide on the issue.
“We want to have this go on the ballot for a voting by the public,” Ahern said.