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Medical Marijuana Supporters Pack Kent City Council Chambers

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A crowd of more than 75 packed the Kent City Council Chambers Tuesday, June 7, after the city delivered letters to four businesses stating they were illegally dispensing medical marijuana.

The people attending the meeting came in support of the medical marijuana businesses and asked the city to allow the facilities to remain open.

The four businesses sent a letter from the city were Suzie Q's, Sun Leaf, Herbal Choice and Evergreen Holistic Center.

The letter was delivered to the businesses by a Kent Police captain according to Mayor Suzette Cooke.

Dated June 3, the letter stated the business were in violation of a state law.

"Dispensing marijuana in violation of state laws subjects you, your employees and your business, to the misdemeanor and felony penalty provisions of Chapter 69.50 RCW, and to the potential for the forfeiture of property used in violation of certain provisions of Chapter 69.50 RCW."

The letter went on to state the dispensing of "medical marijuana to more than one patient at any one time is illegal under state law, you are being placed on notice by this letter, that the City will not tolerated such activity within its boundaries. We request you cease all such activity at once."

Cooke stated at the Tuesday meeting, "The city's hands are tied. I believe in running a legal city. It is of the utmost importance we adhere to the law."

In a June 7 media release, the city stated because the Legislature failed to clarify the law regarding medical marijuana dispensaries, "State law has put the city in a precarious position; we cannot just stand by while activity that is illegal under state and federal law occurs in the city."

During the public comment period of the Council meeting nine people spoke, all in favor of keeping the dispensaries open.

LeeAnn Cook, a Kent resident, stated she was 72 years old and has suffered from chronic back pain.

"I have three children and five grandchildren and I haven't been able to enjoy them until medical marijuana," Cook said. "I would stay home wrapped up in my pain."

Cook stated a doctor recommended she try medical marijuana. She said she went to one of the dispensaries in Kent and "it was clean and professional.... I couldn't see myself buying it on the street. I can't see why this can't be part of our lives."

Ezra Eickmeyer, a lobbyist with the Washington Cannabis Association, said, "If we don't have some safe, above ground access point for patients, I guarantee you they will go underground and drug dealers will profit."

Following the meeting, Tina Leal said her husband had been heavily medicated with morphine and other narcotics since 2003 due to rheumatoid arthritis.

She said in the last year since he began using medical marijuana he has been able reduce the use of the narcotics.

Chris Barten, a volunteer with Evergreen Holistic Center, said the business "wants to work with the city. We don't want to fight with the city and we don't want people out in the streets."

Seattle resident Phillip Dawdy, who stated he was a longtime medical marijuana advocate and worked with the Washington Cannabis Association during the legislative session, said the cities have been left in "an awkward position by the Legislature."

Dawdy said King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg is soon expected to release information concerning the county's position on the issue.

The Legislature had sent Gov. Chris Gregoire a bill during the last session meant to reform and clarify the medical marijuana law in the state.

Gregoire vetoed large portions of the bill in April stating it placed state workers at risk for prosecution under federal law. The federal government does not recognize marijuana as a drug available for dispensing for medical purposes.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic.

According to Dawdy, there are about 75 to 100 medical marijuana dispensaries operating in the state with about 30 in Pierce County and 50 in Seattle.

Dawdy said DEA officers have been closing down medical marijuana businesses in Spokane during the past two months.

The mayor stated enforcement action has not started in Kent.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: seattlepi.com
Author: Dennis Box
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Hearst Communications Inc.
Website: Medical marijuana supporters pack Kent City Council Chambers
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