December 13, 2011
Kudos for medical marijuana rules
Bravo to the City Council, Planning Department, and medical marijuana advocates and patients for crafting a sensible solution to the debate about collective gardens in the city.
The ordinance adopted Dec. 5 reflects compassion and understanding on the part of city leaders. Moreover, the legislation adds commonsense regulations to collective gardens. Limiting the operations near schools, daycare centers and other public spaces is smart.
The decision is also a courageous act. Even as other Washington cities and the federal government fail to recognize marijuana’s medical merits, local leaders made a reaffirming stand for patients’ rights. In Washington, medical marijuana patients suffer from the most debilitating and painful conditions — AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis and more.
The decision to accommodate collective gardens in Issaquah is both compassionate and prudent. To force patients suffering from such conditions to travel to another community or, worse, seek marijuana from disreputable means is inexcusable.
Though the most sensible course of action is to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, the decision in Issaquah is important.
Despite the success in Issaquah, remember the decision did not come without spirited discussion and important questions.
Councilwoman Eileen Barber raised legitimate concerns about placing Issaquah in the crosscurrents between conflicting federal and state laws.
Under a harsh and outdated federal law, marijuana remains illegal, even for medical uses. In Washington, a voter-approved initiative spells out reasonable rules for qualified patients to use marijuana to ease pain and boost appetite.
Barber’s concerns hold merit, to be sure, but the city and residents spent months during a thorough — some could say exhaustive — public process to craft regulations acceptable to law enforcement officers, elected officials and, most importantly, patients.
The city also deserves praise for the process to gather input about the proposed collective garden ordinance. The effort allowed ample time for proponents and opponents to make a case to leaders.
The decades-old prohibition on marijuana at the federal level means state and local governments, such as Issaquah, must lead the charge to relax the rules for marijuana.