Citizens can offer input about medical marijuana ordinance

August 21, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 8 a.m. Aug. 21, 2011

Less than a month after the City Council upheld a moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens and urged planners to craft a solution, the city announced opportunities for citizens to offer input on a proposed medical marijuana ordinance.

Under direction from the council, the Planning Department is developing a measure to determine what — or, indeed, if — business, safety and zoning restrictions should apply to such gardens.

Issaquah is in the midst of a six-month moratorium on the collective gardens. The council enacted the ban in June and, per standard procedure, held a public hearing on the issue July 18. Members agreed to uphold the ban, but after hearing from medical marijuana users and advocates, directed planners to formulate a solution as soon as possible.

Citizens can offer input on the proposed ordinance at a series of meetings in the City Council Chambers, 135 E. Sunset Way, in September and October.

The municipal Planning Policy Commission is scheduled to host a workshop on the issue and listen to public input at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 8.

The commission plans to host a formal public hearing on the proposed ordinance at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 22. Commissioners intend to then forward a recommendation to the City Council.

The council is expected to review the commission’s recommendation at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3.

The city announced the schedule Aug. 17.

State legislators sought to clarify medical marijuana rules in the 2011 regular legislative session, but Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed parts of the bill after federal prosecutors threatened to charge state employees for carrying out such a law.

Issaquah and other cities, including neighboring Sammamish, enacted temporary bans to address issues related to medical marijuana. The law Gregoire signed allows cities to examine possible restrictions on medical marijuana operations.

Washington Initiative 692, passed in 1998, allows people suffering from certain medical conditions to possess a 60-day supply of marijuana. Under state law, physicians can recommend — but not prescribe — medical marijuana for patients.

Marijuana in all forms remains illegal under federal law.

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