Press Editorial

August 2, 2011

Time to legalize marijuana is now

A surefire solution exists to end confusion surrounding marijuana laws — legalization.

The most sensible course of action is to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.

Such a decision could end the confusion of medical marijuana users and municipal officials alike.

Issaquah upheld a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens July 18, because state and federal law do not jibe on marijuana, medical or otherwise. City Council members kept a month-old moratorium in place while they crafted a possible solution.

Although the decision is not ideal, the temporary ban is a prudent response to a confusing situation. We call on the city to work quickly and compassionately to create regulations to allow medical marijuana users access to a drug allowed under voter-approved state law.

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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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King County forgoes crackdown on medical marijuana

July 26, 2011

Dow Constantine

King County is adopting a more laissez-faire approach to medical-marijuana operations as Issaquah, Sammamish and other cities tighten rules for patient-run collective gardens and other operations.

Issaquah City Council members upheld a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens July 18 — the same day the council in neighboring Sammamish enacted a similar moratorium. Federal Way, Kent, North Bend and other cities also clamped down on medical-marijuana operations.

King County Executive Dow Constantine, however, does not intend to propose legislation to address the issue in rural and unincorporated areas.

“At this time, the executive does not plan to propose any new regulations governing dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county,” said Frank Abe, a spokesman for the executive.

The decision means medical-marijuana operations in unincorporated areas, such as The Kind Alternative Medical Collective, a nonprofit collective in Preston, can continue operations unaffected.

In the meantime, county officials plan to reach out to residents in unincorporated areas to address concerns.

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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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Marijuana debate could be sending mixed signals to teens

May 17, 2011

As the debate about medical marijuana progresses, it could be sending mixed messages to youths, shaping their thoughts about the still-illegal substance.

Attitudes among local students are changing about the use of marijuana. Contributed

“Across the board, our counselors are reporting a change in attitude toward marijuana,” Youth Eastside Services Executive Director Patti Skelton-McGougan said. “Teens are seeing pot as less dangerous because of its potential medicinal properties.”

YES counselors are working to educate youths about marijuana, including information showing it is addictive, is often a gateway drug, and can lead to lower school performance and illness.

Nationally, the number of middle and high school students experimenting with the drug is at its highest since the 1980s, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In the Issaquah School District, data only goes back to 2004, when the district began administering the state’s Healthy Youth Survey.

In 2004, more students, on average, reported “that adults in their neighborhoods think youth marijuana use is ‘very wrong,’” compared to reports from 2010.

In 2004, 70 percent of sophomores and 58 percent of seniors said they thought their neighbors looked down on youths using marijuana.

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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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Press Editorial

April 12, 2011

Look, there’s hope in Olympia!

In an otherwise dismal legislative session where the gloom of drastic budget cuts rules the order of the day, there is an unexpected bright spot.

His name is Glenn Anderson, the 5th Legislative District representative from Fall City.

We’ve always known Anderson to be colorful, but this year he seems more inspired to make waves even if it’s just for the sake of discussion. He has been doing less finger pointing and sometimes more inclined to follow his heart than his political party.

Take, for example, Anderson’s proposal to increase business-and-occupation taxes on high-revenue corporations.

What, a Republican wanting to raise taxes ever — let alone in the year when all the talk is about sparking businesses by lowering the B&O tax? Anderson is following his passion and commitment to higher education. The temporary increase would have bumped the financial support for colleges and universities.

That proposed amendment to the state budget went nowhere, but he has introduced House Bill 2032 that would eliminate the onerous B&O tax, opting instead for a flat-rate corporate income tax. If approved as part of a proposed constitutional amendment, the voters would get their say in November.

More in line with his conservative roots, Anderson wants a 7 percent cap on state sales tax, and the total state and local government sales tax to be capped at 10 percent. The sales tax in Issaquah is 9.5 percent. We hope other legislators are listening.

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