Want to Weigh In on Medical Marijuana? Tuesday Night Is Your Chance
At the Regular City Council Meeting Tuesday night in the City of SeaTac City Council chambers, a portion of the agenda will be given over to public comment on the existing moratorium on establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries and collective gardens, even as the State legislature continues to hash details out on pending legislation. Agenda Bill 3362 lays out the background:
Due to the current state of medical marijuana laws in Washington State, the Council determined that a moratorium on the establishment of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries and Collective Gardens was appropriate, and therefore adopted Interim Ordinance 11-1015 on August 9, 2011. This Ordinance also created definitions of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries and Collective Gardens as those terms were not defined in State Law. Ordinance 11-1015 is currently valid through February 1, 2012 and can be extended for an additional six months after another public hearing and adoption of findings of fact supporting the extension.
A public hearing is scheduled for the September 27, 2011 Regular Council Meeting. After the required public hearing has been concluded, the Council may consider the proposed Resolution. If passed by the Council, the Resolution adopts the necessary findings of fact required to support the Council’s adoption of Ordinance 11-1015.
The agenda bill also lays out the “Findings of fact” as follows:
The City Council hereby finds and adopts the following findings of fact in support of Interim Ordinance 11-1015:
a) Initiative Measure No. 692, approved November 3, 1998, created an affirmative defense for “qualifying patients” to the charge of possession of cannabis.
b) The Initiative and current Chapter 69.51A RCW are clear that nothing in its provisions are to be “construed to supersede Washington state law prohibiting the acquisition, possession, manufacture, sale or use of marijuana for nonmedical purposes.”
c) The Washington State Department of Health opines that it is “not legal to buy or sell” medical cannabis and further opines that “the law [Chapter 69.51A RCW] does not allow dispensaries,” leaving enforcement to local officials.
d) The City acknowledges the right of qualified health care professionals to recommend the medical use of cannabis, acknowledges the affirmative defense available to qualifying patients from the possession of cannabis as well as the right of patients to designate a “designated provider” who can “provide” rather than sell cannabis to “only one patient at anyone time.”
e) The 2011 State Legislature passed E2SSB 5073 (“the Act”) and the Governor has signed the bill but has vetoed several sections of the bill.
f) E2SSB 5073 was effective on July 22, 2011.
g) The Act authorizes “collective gardens” which would authorize certain qualifying patients the ability to produce, grow and deliver cannabis for medical use.
h) The acceptance of development applications proposIng medical cannabis dispensaries and collective gardens development may allow development that is incompatible with nearby existing land uses.
i) Despite the Governor’s veto of certain Sections of E2SSB 5073, it is appropriate to impose a moratorium on medical cannabis dispensaries, so the City Council can determine whether further regulation is necessary.
j) The City Council finds that there is an apparent conflict between State and Federal law regarding regulation of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries and
Collective Gardens, and that it is in the public interest that any zoning and development regulations are consistent with both federal and state law.
k) The City Council deems it to be in the public interest to establish a zoning moratorium pending local review of the anticipated changes in the law.
If you’ve got a horse in this race, get involved!