Council Poised To Renew Moratorium On Collective Gardens

Sammamish seems unlikely to follow the lead of Issaquah and other cities in testing the murky waters of medical marijuana dispensaries.

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At a Jan. 3 meeting the council had a first reading of an ordinance that would extend a moratorium on “collective gardens” that can grow and dispense marijuana to patients with a doctor’s note. The council is scheduled to take public comment and then vote on the extension at their Jan. 17 meeting.

The council passed the emergency ban last July after conflicts emerged between state law, which allows up to ten qualifying patients to form a collective garden of up to 45 plants, and federal law, which still classifies marijuana as an illegal drug on par with L*SD or her*oin and without medicinal value. Gov. Chris Gregoire has joined state officials from around the country in asking the federal government to reconsider that classification.

Since the July moratorium, though, cities such as Seattle, Mukilteo, Shoreline and Issaquah have crafted laws and zoning regulations for collective gardens, often with buffers that prevent gardens from opening close to schools or community centers and licensing requirements that call for providers to go through criminal background checks.

With city and state officials continuing to wring their hands about the prospect of their employees being held legally liable for approving a collective garden, city staff is recommending that the council extend their moratorium for another six months in hopes that the picture is clearer then.

“Future case law or amendments to state or federal laws may assist in clarifying the situation,” Community Development Director Kamuron Gurol said. “Meanwhile, a risk assessment by jurisdictions is prudent and the moratorium will provide time for that.”

Gurol added that, unlike Issaquah, the city has not had any applications for a collective garden. In interviews, council members echoed the sentiment that the city should sit this one out until the state and federal governments reach some sort of understanding.

“I’d rather we be followers than leaders on this,” Mayor Tom Odell said.

Deputy Mayor John James said he was keeping an open mind on the subject but said the council hadn’t received much in the way of feedback from the community one way or another on the matter.

“It’s been kind of a quiet issue,” he said.

Councilwoman Nancy Whitten said her legal background makes her very hesitant to have the city act as a test case on the matter.

“There’s a clear conflict there between state and federal law,” Whitten said. “It’s a very uncomfortable feeling when you’re operating under conflicting law, I support the moratorium until it is figured out.”

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News Hawk – 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
Location: Sammamish, WA
Source: Sammamish Review
Author: Caleb Heeringa
Contact: [email protected]
Copyright: {2011} Sammamish Review
Website: The Sammamish Review