Ordinance faces test as marijuana collective applies for license
January 24, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
In the initial test for a landmark medical marijuana ordinance enacted last month, a patient-run collective at the center of discussions about changes to city rules applied for licenses to operate.
The application from the nonprofit medical marijuana operation, GreenLink Collective, came after planners, officials and residents crafted a medical marijuana ordinance designed to balance public safety concerns and patients’ access to the drug.
GreenLink organizers applied to occupy units E, F and G in a commercial building at 160 N.W. Gilman Blvd. The organization does not intend to grow marijuana in the space. GreenLink founders Jake and Lydia George applied for the license on behalf of the organization Dec. 19, the day the ordinance took effect.
The facility is proposed as a place to process and deliver medical marijuana to qualified patients, offer classes and information, and sell supplies for people to produce and consume marijuana under the framework of state law.
Send comments on the GreenLink Collective medical marijuana collective garden application to David Favour, Planning Department, P.O. Box 1307, Issaquah, WA 98027-1307. Or email comments to email@example.com. The deadline for comments is 5 p.m. Jan. 27.
Organizers said medical marijuana deliveries should not be visible from public spaces, in order to meet city code.
The code requires a 1,000-foot buffer between a collective garden and a community center, school or another collective garden. The rules set a 500-foot buffer between a collective garden and park, preschool or daycare center. The ordinance also established a limit of a single collective garden per site.
In addition, applicants for a collective garden safety license through the city must undergo a background check by the Issaquah Police Department. The city can deny applications to people convicted of a felony drug law violation in the past 10 years.
If the city approves the application, GreenLink operators must install a security system and cameras onsite.
The collective opened in late 2010 at a former daycare center near Issaquah Valley Elementary School in a neighborhood not zoned for commercial operations. Though advocates said nonprofit status afforded the medical marijuana operation some flexibility, officials ruled against GreenLink’s initial application for a city business license.
The decision launched a monthslong process to set rules for medical marijuana operations in Issaquah.
In June, council members imposed a moratorium on collective gardens as local and state officials scrambled to ease patient access to medical marijuana. Changes in state law for medical marijuana also shifted early last year. Still, city officials upheld the moratorium in July to allow planners additional time to formulate rules for medical marijuana operations.
Patients using GreenLink for access to medical marijuana offered emotional testimony throughout the process. The city received few complaints about the proposed ordinance.
Though marijuana remains illegal under federal law, enforcing state-level medical marijuana laws is left to local and state law enforcement officers, despite the obvious conflict between state and federal regulations.
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 — the drug for patients.
Washington law allows up to 10 qualifying patients to join together and form a collective garden of up to 45 plants, so long as the marijuana is not visible from public spaces.
The voter-approved state law permits medical uses for patients suffering from debilitating conditions, such as AIDS and cancer. Washington and 15 other states — plus Washington, D.C. — allow health care providers to authorize medical marijuana as a treatment.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.