Seattle has become the first city in Washington to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. The Seattle City Council decided to take the take matters into their own hands after efforts to regulate medical pot at the state level failed.
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.
The ordinance was in part the result of meetings between city officials, including City Attorney Pete Holmes, and members of the medical-marijuana community. They gathered last month to talk about what is allowable under state law, which is dramatically changing July 22, because of 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.
Evergreen State voters approved legalizing medical marijuana in 1998. Washington is one of 16 states which allows marijuana use for medical purposes, but the federal government still does not recognize any medicinal use for cannabis.