An ordinance regulating medical marijuana collective gardens may get some tweaking after City Council members expressed some concerns about the proposal Monday night.
Members questioned if there is a way to regulate how people leave and join a collective garden, whether signs are necessary at all and whether requiring a business license is necessary — or wise. They also discussed classifying the Tommy Thompson trail as a park for the ordinance, considering changes to buffers and possibly requiring collective gardens to grow for only local residents.
Previously, after hearing public comments, the Planning Commission had OK’d the ordinance. It would allow collective gardens in industrial and light manufacturing zones and would require a buffer of 500 feet from places such as schools and parks. There would be 500 feet between collective gardens and security and licensing requirements.
The city ordinance is a tricky one legally.
Under federal law, marijuana is still an illegal controlled substance. Washington is one of several states with laws that differ. In 1998, voters approved the Medical Marijuana Act, which creates an affirmative defense to the charge of possession of marijuana for qualifying patients who use medical marijuana. More recently, Gov. Chris Gregoire approved portions of a bill that allows qualifying patients to create and participate in collective gardens as long as they follow certain conditions.
Mayor Dean Maxwell said the Legislature left cities with a huge dilemma.
“We just don’t have any experience with this. Most cities don’t,” he said.
The city will have to continue to review the ordinance as laws change.
Councilman Eric Johnson noted some cities that deny collective gardens are being sued, not the state, which creates a dilemma.
The council is scheduled to review the issue again at its Aug. 20 meeting. City officials will provide more information on their concerns and answer questions. The council could make a final decision that night.
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