Local medical marijuana operations unaffected by DEA raids

November 16, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 16, 2011

Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local law enforcement officers raided more than a dozen medical marijuana operations in Western Washington on Tuesday, but the sweep did not affect collectives in Issaquah and Preston.

The operation targeted at least 14 medical marijuana operations in King, Pierce and Thurston counties. Overall, authorities arrested more than a dozen people.

Officials said the operations targeted in the raids failed to meet state guidelines or used the state medical marijuana law as cover to make illegal sales.

“Our job is to enforce federal criminal laws. In doing so, we always prioritize and focus our resources,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a statement. “As we have previously stated, we will not prosecute truly ill people or their doctors who determine that marijuana is an appropriate medical treatment.”

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City upholds moratorium on medical marijuana gardens

July 26, 2011

Leaders intend to ‘give the city time’ to establish rules

In the emotion-laced discussion about medical marijuana rules in Issaquah, stage IV melanoma survivor Kathy Sparks added a patient’s perspective to the debate.

Before the City Council decided July 18 to uphold a moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens, Sparks, a Tiger Mountain resident, asked members to consider patients unable to attend the hearing.

“There are lots of patients in stretchers and wheelchairs who can’t be here tonight to say these things,” she said.

Councilmen Mark Mullet (left), Tola Marts and Joshua Schaer listen as medical marijuana advocates address the City Council on July 18 about Issaquah's moratorium on collective gardens. By Greg Farrar

The council opted in a 6-1 decision — after poignant pleas from medical marijuana users and strikingly personal stories from council members — to maintain a moratorium enacted last month. Councilman Mark Mullet voted against the moratorium.

Under state law, a city can impose a moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens as leaders consider possible land-use or zoning changes. The moratorium is in effect for up to six months, although council members urged city staffers to formulate possible solutions as soon as possible.

Recent changes in state law prompted the decision. So, too, did the opening late last year of a medical marijuana collective in a downtown Issaquah neighborhood.

Though medical marijuana dispensaries remain illegal under state law, hazy rules surround patient collectives.

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.

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Issaquah moratorium on medical marijuana gardens remains in effect

July 19, 2011

Councilmen Mark Mullet (left), Tola Marts and Joshua Schaer listen as medical marijuana advocates address the City Council on Monday about Issaquah's moratorium on collective gardens. By Greg Farrar

Leaders continue moratorium to ‘give the city time’ to establish rules

NEW — 10 a.m. July 19, 2011

In the discussion about medical marijuana rules in Issaquah, Stage IV melanoma survivor Kathy Sparks added a patient’s perspective to the debate.

Before the City Council decided Monday night to continue a moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens, Sparks, a Tiger Mountain resident, asked members to consider patients unable to attend the hearing.

“There are lots of patients in stretchers and wheelchairs who can’t be here tonight to say these things,” she said.

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Community input is sought on medical marijuana moratorium

July 12, 2011

Issaquah leaders enacted a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens June 20, as the city prepares to address a state law meant to clarify the hazy rules surrounding medical marijuana.

Now, community members can offer input to the City Council about the moratorium at a public hearing during a July 18 meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way.

Members enacted the moratorium in a unanimous decision. State law authorizes a city to impose a moratorium as leaders consider possible land-use or zoning changes. The pause is meant to allow city leaders to consider options for collective gardens before updated state laws for medical marijuana collectives take effect July 22.

The moratorium also prompted questions about the only medical marijuana collective in Issaquah.

GreenLink Collective appealed in March after the city denied a business license to the downtown medical marijuana collective. The city denied the application, because planners decided the collective is more similar to a drugstore or a pharmacy, rather than a social services organization. The city hearing examiner denied the appeal June 20.

City Council enacts moratorium on medical marijuana gardens

June 28, 2011

Issaquah leaders enacted a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens June 20, as the city prepares to address a state law meant to clarify the hazy rules surrounding medical marijuana.

City Council members enacted the moratorium in a unanimous decision. State law authorizes a city to impose a moratorium as leaders consider possible land-use or zoning changes. The pause is meant to allow city leaders to consider options for collective gardens.

Under state law, up to 10 qualifying patients can join together and form a collective garden of up to 45 plants, so long as the marijuana is not visible from public spaces.

The initial measure before the council included language about a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries as well. Councilman Fred Butler eliminated the language before the vote.

“The reason for deleting ‘medical marijuana dispensaries’ is, they’re currently illegal and were not addressed in the” recent state legislation, he said before the council decision.

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City denies business license appeal from medical marijuana collective

June 28, 2011

GreenLink Collective, a medical marijuana collective along a tree-lined street in a downtown neighborhood, is more similar to a drugstore or pharmacy than a social services organization, a city development official decided last week.

In a decision issued June 20, Hearing Examiner Ted Hunter denied GreenLink’s appeal. (The hearing examiner is a municipal official responsible for certain development-related decisions.)

GreenLink operators appealed in March after the city denied a business license application for the medical marijuana collective. GreenLink operators said the facility qualified as a nonprofit social-services organization — a use allowed in residential areas.

The planner assigned to process the license “noted that although some classes are offered that may be similar to the operations of a nonprofit, the primary purpose of the business as described on its website is that of retail sales,” the decision states.

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Issaquah marijuana collective fights for license

April 19, 2011

Lydia George holds buds of medical marijuana from two of the several jars at the GreenLink Collective. Physicians can recommend but not prescribe the drug. By Greg Farrar

The reception area at GreenLink Collective, a medical marijuana collective nestled on a leafy street in downtown Issaquah, resembles a doctor’s office.

The decision to incorporate soothing colors and a bubbling aquarium in the lobby is no coincidence.

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