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North Bend Bans Medical Marijuana Facilities for One Year

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North Bend, WA.--North Bend City Council has banned marijuana dispensaries in the city's limits for one year. The city's administration recommended the ban because it felt state law was too vague about how patients can get medical marijuana.

The council unanimously voted at its June 7 meeting to adopt an ordinance banning the opening or operation of any medical marijuana dispensary for one year under the city's emergency clause. A public hearing on the ban is scheduled for July 19.

Currently, the closest medical marijuana dispensary for Snoqualmie Valley patients is The Kind Alternative in Preston.

Like many cities, North Bend's administration had been looking to the state Legislature to clarify the state's medical marijuana laws during its last session. But that effort failed when Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed parts of a bill passed by the Legislature this spring.

The current law leaves too much grey area for providers and users, according to medical marijuana advocates and law enforcement officials.

Since Olympia failed to clarify the law, a moratorium in North Bend would give the city time to determine its position, City Administrator Duncan Wilson said.

"We don't have any guidance right now as to what is or isn't legal and where they should be," Wilson said.

After receiving two inquiries about opening a dispensary in North Bend, the city's administration decided to act before anyone filed for a business permit.

Washington cities have handled the law's vagueness in varying ways. Some cities, including Tacoma and Seattle, have let dispensaries operate. Other cities, including Shoreline, Federal Way and Lake Forest Park, have tried to shut down dispensaries in civil court.

"The state law is vague, the state law is in conflict with federal law and cities are caught in the middle," Councilman Dave Cook said.

Washington voters backed a vaguely-worded initiative in 1998 to allow medical marijuana. The state Department of Health clarified in 2007 how much marijuana patients can have.

With the law's broad gray areas, law enforcement's approach to medical marijuana across Washington varies by county. King County has followed the spirit of the law, according to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

In an effort to make law enforcement's approach more consistent across Washington, state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, introduced legislation this spring giving patients more protection from arrest, and setting up a registry of dispensaries and patients, among other changes to existing law.

Using a line-item veto, Gregoire nullified parts of the final bill that required government oversight – and taxpayer money.

Among the reasons she expressed in public statements, Gregoire said she wanted to protect state employees from federal prosecution. The federal government does not recognize medical marijuana.

That concern was among the several listed in the city's ordinance.

The ordinance bans dispensaries, and facilities for the production and processing of medical marijuana. The City Council is required to develop a work plan to get the city out of any moratorium it passes.

The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 19 at the Mt. Si Senior Center, 411 Main Ave. S.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: snovalleystar.com
Author: Dan Catchpole
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: SnoValley Star
Website: North Bend bans medical marijuana facilities for one year
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