1. Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.
    PLEASE HELP
  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Left in the lurch by a gubernatorial veto, the Seattle City Council this week will begin attempts to license and regulate the growing medical marijuana industry here.

    Earlier this year the state Legislature passed a medical marijuana bill, but Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed most of it. The governor said she worried the legislation put state workers at risk of federal prosecution. Evergreen State voters approved legalizing medical marijuana in 1998. Washington is one of 15 states which allows marijuana use for medical purposes, but the federal government does not recognize any medicinal use for cannabis.

    On Wednesday at 2 p.m., the City Council's Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee will consider an ordinance from Councilman Nick Licata establishing rules for medical pot shops. They would have to obtain a business license, pay taxes and fees and meet city land use codes.

    They would also be subject to the requirements of the city's "Chronic Nuisance Property Law," meaning if there are repeated complaints about activity at the establishments they could face fines or possible closure. The "open use and display of cannabis" would also be prohibited at the dispensaries.

    The proposed ordinance also states "The issuance of a business license pursuant... or the issuance of any other permit or license by the City, shall not be deemed as approval or permission from the City of Seattle to engage in any activity deemed illegal under any applicable law, nor shall it constitute a determination by the City that the manufacture, production, processing, possession, transportation, delivery, dispensing, application, or administration of and use of cannabis engaged in by the licensee or permittee is either legal or illegal under state or federal law."

    City Councilmembers have said for weeks that they'd have to address the medical marijuana question after state legislative efforts failed. The bill that passed in Olympia was designed to set clearer regulations on medical marijuana use and to establish a licensing system and patient registry to protect qualifying patients, doctors and providers from criminal liability.

    Gregoire vetoed provisions of the bill that would have licensed and regulated medical marijuana dispensaries and producers. She also vetoed a provision for a patient registry under the Department of Health.

    Seattle's mayor and city attorney and King County's executive and prosecutor had sent a letter to legislative leaders, urging them to pass a compromise version of medical marijuana legislation, but that also went nowhere.

    Mayor Mike McGinn, Executive Dow Constantine, City Attorney Pete Holmes and Prosecutor Dan Satterberg have previously said that Gregoire's veto of a previous medical cannabis bill "leaves local governments with no clear path forward as we struggle to balance three priorities: public safety; the need of qualified patients to have safe access to medical marijuana; and law enforcement's need for clarity."

    By CHRIS GRYGIEL, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF
    Published 11:32 p.m., Sunday, July 10, 2011

    http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Seattle-may-license-regulate-medical-pot-shops-1460052.php

Comments

  1. CaptainTripps
    Seattle moving toward rules for medical-marijuana shops

    On Wednesday, the Seattle City Council will consider whether to require that medical-marijuana operations get a city business license and comply with city land use, fire and other rules.

    Seattle is taking the first steps toward regulating medical-marijuana dispensaries, putting itself on an increasingly lonely pot-friendly island as other Puget Sound cities move toward outright bans.

    On Wednesday, the Seattle City Council will consider whether to require that medical-marijuana operations get a city business license and comply with city land-use, fire-safety and other rules.

    It is a baby step, but if passed, it would be the furthest any city in Washington has gone to bring the booming medical-marijuana industry out of the shadows and into the business mainstream.

    Seattle officials, including City Attorney Pete Holmes, have debated going further, including clustering medical-marijuana grows in specific land-use zones.
    But Holmes — as well as attorneys for marijuana operations — say full regulation raises the risk of intervention by federal authorities.

    "This is a tolerant city, and I don't see that changing. But we'd be doing our citizens a disservice if we ignore the federal prohibition" of marijuana, said Holmes.

    The proposal comes as the state's 13-year-old, voter-approved medical-marijuana law is dramatically changing on July 22, due to Gov. Chris Gregoire's partial veto in May of a proposed landmark bill that would have legalized and regulated dispensaries and grow farms.

    Her veto made dispensaries, which have boomed throughout the state in the past two years, clearly illegal. But she also authorized new 45-plant "collective gardens" for up to 10 patients at a time, clearly establishing for the first time a right for patients to band together in growing collectives.

    As a result, dispensaries appear to be eager to shift, in business model and in name, into collective garden co-ops.

    At a packed meeting at the Cannabis Defense Coalition's Sodo headquarters last month, Seattle defense attorney Aaron Pelley told the gathered dispensary owners and marijuana growers how that could happen. The new law suggests that, by rotating several of the 10 patient memberships in each garden, medical-marijuana operations would be able to have large customer bases, Pelley said.

    "I don't see anything in the law that says you can't," he said to the crowd of about 80 people. Pelley warned the crowd that lewd, explicit ads featured in alternative weeklies "make you a target," and no business model was a hedge from federal prosecution.

    The crowd buzzed as the concept began sinking in. After the meeting, a business attorney also attending was flooded with inquiries.

    The potential for a forest of new collective garden co-ops, combined with Seattle's go-it-alone approach, means that storefront marijuana distributors are likely here to stay. Currently, 51 dispensaries have Seattle business licenses, with at least a dozen more that are underground, according to city staff.

    King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg agrees that collective gardens offer a viable, legal model and are "the clearest legal protection" medical-marijuana distributors have had, said Ian Goodhew, Satterberg's lead attorney on the issue.
    He warned that cooperatives that exploit the law — such as by launching huge grow operations under a single roof — could still draw prosecutors' attention, and that Satterberg has been frustrated by bad actors exploiting the state law to make lots of quick cash.

    "The Legislature has authorized medical-marijuana patients to grow collectively. They should use it and comply with standards in the new statute," said Goodhew. "That way law enforcement and prosecutors stay out of regulating the use of people's medicine."

    Cities forced to act

    After Gregoire's veto forced municipalities to act, most regional cities took the opposite approach to Seattle by banning or halting new medical-marijuana operations.

    In the past month alone, Issaquah, North Bend, Snohomish and Kent passed moratoriums, joining a long list that includes Shoreline, Federal Way, Edmonds and others that cracked down.

    In Kent, police served search warrants, seizing patient records and marijuana, at four dispensaries less than 24 hours after the City Council passed an emergency moratorium last week. Jay Berneburg, an attorney for several Kent dispensaries, said such "heavy-handed" actions are likely to cluster marijuana business "in civilized cities like Seattle and Tacoma."

    "Political support is clearly on the side of medical marijuana, not on the drug warriors," he said.

    Federal prosecutors have taken an increasingly belligerent approach in the 15 states that authorize medical marijuana. A June 29 memo from the Justice Department reiterated that local U.S. Attorneys have discretion to press cases in their jurisdictions, and that "state laws or local ordinances are not a defense to civil or criminal enforcement of federal law."

    Although Seattle, if it passes the ordinance, would be an outlier in Washington, it would join dozens of cities nationwide that regulate marijuana dispensers. In California alone, 42 cities have ordinances, while nearly 250 have moratoriums or bans, according to Americans for Safe Access, a medical-marijuana advocacy group.

    "Many localities have [passed ordinances] where state laws don't regulate the activity," said Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the group. "It's been left to municipalities to pick up the slack."

    Seattle, nonetheless, is treading lightly with the new proposed ordinance. City Councilmember Sally Clark said the city sought "to keep ourselves clean from federal intervention."

    She said that requiring medical-marijuana dispensaries or cooperatives to follow city codes — complying with fire or construction rules — is a matter of safety.
    "I don't think city workers who are checking off electrical use permits or checking on change of use permits are at risk" of federal prosecution," she said.

    The specter of public employees facing federal prosecution for enforcing medical-marijuana regulations was raised by Gregoire in her veto. The U.S. Attorneys in Seattle and Spokane, in a letter sent just before the veto, said state workers were not immune, criminally or civilly.

    But there is no record of state medical-marijuana regulators facing federal prosecution, even in states with fully licensed dispensaries and grow farms. Constitutional scholars and political analysts widely describe it as extremely improbable.

    Over the next several months, Seattle will consider further regulation, including possible zoning restrictions that could channel collective gardens — particularly larger-scale, multigarden operations — into commercial or industrial zones, Clark said. Staff was researching current zoning rules for gardens, farms and pharmacies.

    Oscar Velasco-Schmitz, founder of the Dockside Co-op, a medical-marijuana dispensary in Fremont, said he welcomed Seattle's proposal as a first step.
    "It acknowledges that the citizens of Seattle have a need for medical cannabis," he said, "and are looking for a safe way" to get it.

    But Douglas Hiatt, a longtime marijuana defense attorney, said he'd sue Seattle if it enacted the ordinance because it would force cooperatives to acknowledge they were selling a drug still illegal under federal law.

    "You cannot regulate an illegal substance," said Hiatt. "It would be a total admission of guilt and Exhibit 1 in a federal [criminal] case."


    . By Jonathan Martin
    Seattle Times staff reporter
    Originally published Monday, July 11, 2011 at 5:57 PM
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2015579809_marijuana12m.html
  2. CaptainTripps
    Defending providers of medical marijuana

    The Seattle Times editorial board supports the city of Seattle's move to license and regulate medical marijuana co-ops.

    A COMMITTEE of the Seattle City Council grappled Wednesday with a proposed ordinance for medical-marijuana cooperatives. It would be much easier for Seattle to ban them, as some suburban cities have done — and it would be wrong.
    Ultimately, marijuana prohibition has to end. The next step is to defend the providers of medical patients.

    The people of Seattle have been clear about this. They supported medical marijuana 13 years ago, in a statewide vote, and they supported a citywide ballot eight years ago making simple possession the lowest police priority. They have elected local politicians who support full legalization.

    Federal law bans marijuana entirely, claiming there are no legitimate uses. Yet the Obama administration has said it would not target sick people and their doctors if they comply with state law. However, U.S. attorneys have also threatened to prosecute growers, processors and retailers.

    That much tolerance is not enough. The supply chain has to be brought above ground. And because it is questionable legally for state and local governments to do this, it has to be done in ways that can be defended politically.
    This is what the proposed ordinance begins to do.

    It says any future cannabis-related businesses must have city licenses, follow city land-use rules, and so on. Judged alone, it is innocuous, but it cannot be judged alone. It is part of a political dance. It is a message sent by the city of Seattle to Congress and to the Obama administration.

    If Seattle licenses cannabis co-ops, it will leave the members open to federal prosecution. That is a risk they will choose to take. Seattle's job will be to set up a system of regulation that is so clearly reasonable, and supported by people here, that prosecution of licensed suppliers will be a risk the federal government chooses not to take.

    Originally published Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 3:59 PM
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/editorials/2015602065_edit14cannabis.html
  3. Terrapinzflyer
    Seattle passes rules for medical-marijuana providers
    The Seattle City Council on Monday passed rules governing medical-marijuana operations, just as the state's law is dramatically changing.

    The Seattle City Council on Monday passed rules governing medical-marijuana operations, requiring they get a city business license and comply with city land-use, fire-safety and other rules.

    The ordinance, passed unanimously with Councilmember Nick Licata absent, will take effect 30 days after being signed by Mayor Mike McGinn, who has been supportive of medical-marijuana law.

    The ordinance comes as the state's 13-year-old, voter-approved medical-marijuana law is dramatically changing on July 22, due to Gov. Chris Gregoire's partial veto in May of a proposed landmark bill that would have legalized and regulated dispensaries and grow farms.

    Her veto made dispensaries, which have boomed throughout the state in the past two years, clearly illegal. But she also authorized new 45-plant "collective gardens" for up to 10 patients at a time, clearly establishing for the first time a right for patients to band together in growing collectives.

    "While the Washington state legislature attempted to clear up language regarding dispensing medical marijuana, the Council and City Attorney Pete Holmes felt more needed to be done at the local level," bill sponsor Licata said in a news release. "This ordinance recognizes the continued federal prohibition against marijuana but explains the rules with which businesses must still comply."

    More than four dozen dispensaries have Seattle business licenses, with at least a dozen more that are underground, according to city staff.

    Over the next several months, Seattle will consider further regulation, including possible zoning restrictions that could channel collective gardens — particularly larger-scale, multigarden operations — into commercial or industrial zones, City Councilmember Sally Clark said earlier this month. Staffers were researching current zoning rules for gardens, farms and pharmacies.

    After Gregoire's veto forced municipalities to act, most regional cities took the opposite approach to Seattle by banning or halting new medical-marijuana operations.

    In the past month alone, Issaquah, North Bend, Snohomish and Kent passed moratoriums, joining a long list that includes Shoreline, Federal Way, Edmonds and others that cracked down.

    Information from The Seattle Times archives is included in this report.


    Seattle Times Staff
    July 18, 2011

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2015652681_marijuana19m.html
  4. Terrapinzflyer
    Seattle to license, tax medical marijuana gardens
    The city of Seattle plans to start taxing and licensing medical marijuana operations like any other business, in response to changes in state law that have left the industry in a legal morass.


    The city of Seattle plans to start taxing and licensing medical marijuana operations like any other business, in response to changes in state law that have left the industry in a legal morass.

    The Seattle City Council unanimously passed rules Monday requiring that medical marijuana operations be licensed, obtain food-handling permits if they sell marijuana-infused cookies or other items, and follow all other regulations such as land use and historic preservation codes. The approach is the opposite of what several other local cities have done - imposing moratoriums on such operations.

    "The upshot is they are here and we should regulate them," said Councilwoman Sally Clark.

    A spokesman for Mayor Mike McGinn said he expects to sign the measure quickly.

    Earlier this year, the Legislature passed a bill that would have created a system of licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and would have blocked police from arresting or searching patients who signed a patient registry, provided that they are following the law, which allows possession of up to 24 ounces of useable marijuana and up to 15 plants.

    Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed much of the bill, including the sections on dispensaries and the patient registry, saying she feared state workers could face federal prosecution for participating in the licensing scheme.

    She left in sections that say collective marijuana grows with up to 45 plants, serving up to 10 patients, are OK, and many dispensaries around the state are now scrambling to reorganize themselves under that rubric. Some have noted that loopholes could allow relatively large-scale operations: The law is silent on how many community gardens can be located on a single tax parcel, for example, nor does it say anything about whether patients can belong to more than one collective grow operation.

    The new version of the state's medical marijuana law takes effect Friday.

    Philip Dawdy, spokesman for the Washington Cannabis Association, said Seattle is the first city to push back against the feds and the governor's veto.

    "They're saying that we want these places to be part of the community and as long as they fit in with the community, they're fine," Dawdy said.

    Seattle medical marijuana attorney Douglas Hiatt sharply criticized the council's vote, however.

    Though Gregoire left in a section of the bill that allows cities to enforce zoning, licensing and other requirements with regard to the production or sale of marijuana in their jurisdictions, Hiatt argued that the city simply doesn't have legal authority to regulate an illegal substance - and marijuana remains illegal under federal law and state law. Authorized patients in Washington are allowed to present an "affirmative defense" if they're arrested, much like someone charged in a homicide can claim self-defense.

    Essentially, he said, the city of Seattle is taking steps to amend the state's controlled substances act, adding the requirement that medical marijuana organizations register as businesses. While the state Legislature has the authority to create such a licensing scheme, the city doesn't, he argued.

    And it could have dire consequences for medical marijuana patients, Hiatt said: If the city of Seattle has the authority to regulate the operations, then other cities, including Kent, Issaquah, and Snohomish, could have the authority to impose moratoriums. He plans a lawsuit to challenge the new Seattle ordinance.

    "Med marijuana will be wiped out of the state if the city of Seattle can do all that stuff," Hiatt said.

    Alison Holcomb, drug policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, questioned that analysis. Other jurisdictions would not be able to regulate community gardens as long as they don't operate like a business, she said.

    "All the ordinance says is that if you're operating a business, you have to comply with the ordinances relating to business," she said.

    It wasn't immediately clear how much money the city might bring in from marijuana business-related taxes and fees. There are about 50 such operations registered with the city, Clark said, and another 30 that aren't registered.


    By GENE JOHNSON
    Associated Press

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ht...pwamedicalmarijuanaseattle1stldwritethru.html
  5. CaptainTripps
    Seattle mayor signs city's medical marijuana law

    The city of Seattle will regulate medical marijuana shops like any other business under a law signed Wednesday by Mayor Mike McGinn.

    The ordinance, which unanimously passed the city council this month, requires that medical marijuana operations be licensed, pay taxes and fees, obtain food-handling permits if they sell marijuana cookies, and follow all other regulations such as land-use codes.

    "This ordinance gives us more tools to protect public safety while ensuring businesses are good neighbors in their communities," McGinn said in a statement. "This will help us work toward a more rational and sensible way of regulating marijuana use, instead of continuing an irrational policy of prohibition that just doesn't work."

    The approach contrasts with several other cities in Washington that are taking steps to impose moratoriums on such operations.

    Medical marijuana regulations in the state have been uncertain since Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed much of a bill that would have created a system of licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. She left in sections allowing collective medical marijuana operations.

    Many in the medical marijuana community have praised Seattle's new law, saying that at least the city is doing something to rebel against federal and state laws prohibiting cannabis.

    But one medical marijuana attorney, Douglas Hiatt, has threatened a lawsuit to block it. The city does not have the authority to regulate an illegal substance, he argued, and forcing the operations to obtain a business license essentially forces them to acknowledge they're breaking the law.

    McGinn said he will continue working with state lawmakers and the governor to support a bill to provide greater clarity and legal protections for qualified medical marijuana users and providers.

    The mayor's office will also work with the City Council and the planning officials to develop zoning regulations for medical cannabis facilities.

    The law takes effect in 30 days.


    Originally published Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 3:33 PM
    The Associated Press
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ht...pwamedicalmarijuanaseattle1stldwritethru.html
To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!