The Seattle City Council has taken steps toward legalizing medical marijuana in the city this week, voting Monday to establish a municipal licensing, regulation and taxation system for medical marijuana. The licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries and co-ops would fall under a new state law going into effect on Friday, July 22, which would make medical marijuana dispensaries illegal. From Reuters:
The 8-0 vote in favor of the measure comes nearly three months after Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law a new measure allowing cities to regulate and license production, processing and distribution of medical marijuana on a limited basis.
That statute, which takes effect on Friday, requires storefront dispensaries and other medical pot suppliers to reorganize themselves as small, cooperative ventures serving up to 10 patients. These “collective gardens” are confined to growing 45 plants total but no more than 15 per person.
This vote is a ground-breaking move for Washington, and is the farthest any city in the state has gone toward legitimizing medical marijuana usage. Dispensaries and co-ops citywide would benefit from the licensing decision, including Queen Anne area dispensaries the Seattle Medical Marijuana Association on 15th, the E.C.C. Emerald City Collective on Elliott, and Sens-Able Patient Network, and Fremont-based Dockside Co-Op. From MyNorthwest.com:
“They’re not kicking the can down the road and having somebody else deal with it,” [Dockside Co-Op owner Oscar] Velasco-Schmitz says. “They realize that there is a need for medical cannibis within the community, and they’re taking steps to be able to provide that for the community in a safe manner.”
While Seattle has taken measures to license medical marijuana dispensaries, such businesses are still in violation of federal law. If signed by Mayor Mike McGinn, the proposed ordinance would require medical marijuana businesses to comply with city codes, governing everything from plumbing to public nuisance complaints. From Reuters:
Seattle officials backing the proposed city ordinance say more than 25,000 of the city’s 600,000 residents use cannabis for medical reasons. They argue that regulation will bring more order to the burgeoning supply chain.
“We’re saying, ‘You’re already here, now we need to regulate you,’” Seattle Councilwoman Sally Clark said.
Clark told Reuters that some 80 medical marijuana dispensaries have sprung up in Seattle over the last few years, but of those, only about 50 have officially registered with the city. The mayor is expected to sign the ordinance as early as Tuesday. Once signed, the measure would go into effect in 30 days.
But not all medical marijuana proponents are praising the decision. Medical marijuana attorney Douglas Hiatt told The Seattle Times he’s planning to sue the city to block the action. “He says marijuana remains illegal under both federal and state law, and the city does not have authority to regulate an illegal substance,” according to the Times.
What do you think? Is it time for medical marijuana dispensaries to be full licensed by the city and state?
And while we’re on the topic, check out these stories from our sister sites on the gray area that exists in the world of medical marijuana and the Wallingford Cannabis Farmer’s Market.