Press Editorial

December 13, 2011

By Staff

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Under a harsh and outdated federal law, marijuana remains illegal, even for medical uses.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.

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3 Responses to “Press Editorial”

  1. Steve Sarich on December 14th, 2011 1:58 pm

    Perhaps the city officials of Issaquah has the best intentions in passing this local ordinance, but it preempts state law and will never hold up in court. There is NOTHING in the state law that allows cities to control collective gardens….ZERO, ZIP, NADA. If Issaquah could get away with doing this, then Eastern Washington cities, like Yakima, could get away with banning cannabis entirely.

    Be careful what you ask for.

  2. Ummm No on December 15th, 2011 9:30 am

    Steve, says “Cities and towns may adopt and enforce any of the following pertaining to the production, processing, or dispensing of cannabis or cannabis products within their jurisdiction: Zoning requirements, business licensing requirements, health and safety requirements, and business taxes.” That is crystal clear language.

  3. Steve Sarich on December 15th, 2011 11:12 am

    To “Ummm No”….I’ve analyzed this law probably more than anyone in the state and certainly more that the people who wrote it.

    What you’re quoting is from Section 1102. 1102 is now an “orphan clause”. This was a clause that gave the municipalities the power (which is the only was the municipalities get power to have regulatory power over a state law) to regulate “production, processing or dispensing” in their jurisdictions.

    No where does it mention and rights to regulate collective gardens or individual growers. Since the Governor vetoed ALL of the sections relating to “production, processing or dispensing”….there was nothing left for the cities to “regulate”. They simply decided on their own to add collectives….which they can’t do without the permission of the state….which they don’t have.

    There is nothing in the state law that calls for registering, zoning requirements, taxation, licensing or background checks on members of a collective.

    Ummmmm….you should probably read the law a little closer….especially the section on collectives. You won’t find any powers give to the municipalities to regulate them. If you find that I’m wrong….post it up here and I’ll be happy to answer it.

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