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Smokey Point Shop's Pot Sales Surprise Officials


Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
City officials are treading lightly in investigating what is advertised as a medical marijuana dispensary in the city.

Elevated Medical Treatment opened in Smokey Point in March. Dispensaries are illegal in this state.

Still, enforcement of medical marijuana laws is tricky, officials say, and they want to make sure they're not infringing on anyone's rights if they take action to close the shop.

"We are going to go through this very carefully," Marysville chief administrative officer Gloria Hirashima said Monday.

"My initial reaction was one of concern," City Councilman Jeff Vaughan said. At the same time, "this is pretty new territory," he said. "There's not a lot of information about how cities plan to handle this kind of thing."

Like Washington, medical marijuana is legal in California. Cities there are in the midst of enforcing ordinances that do not allow marijuana dispensaries and have raided and closed dozens of the illegal businesses.

Customers in California can also find easy prescriptions to justify using the drug, whether it's helpful for a person's genuine medical problem or they just want to smoke dope.

The Marysville operation came into the public eye after two suitcases full of cannabis valued at $50,000 were stolen at gunpoint from a couple in Skagit County last Tuesday.

The victims told police it was intended for distribution to patients with medical permission through the Smokey Point shop.

No arrests have been made in the robbery, a Skagit County police official said Monday.

Elevated Medical Treatment is registered with the state as a nonprofit organization. The group applied for a business license with Marysville in late March.

On its application, it listed its intended service as "holistic, herbal, alternative, organic remedies." The application did not mention marijuana.

The organization's website, however, describes the group as a "legal provider of medical cannabis in North Snohomish, Skagit, Island, and Whatcom counties."

Several different types of cannabis are listed as available, with descriptions accompanied by photos, asking for donations of $10 a gram or $260 per ounce.

Marijuana was made legal for medical use in the state by initiative in 1998. Businesses such as medical marijuana dispensaries, however, are not, according to the state Department of Health.

A patient who has a written recommendation from a doctor for marijuana use may grow it or may designate a provider to grow it for them if they are physically unable to do so themselves, said Donn Moyer, a spokesman for the health department. They may grow a 60-day supply of marijuana, defined as 24 ounces and 15 plants.

Under state law, it is illegal for anyone to buy or sell the drug.

Michael Reid, a Seattle attorney representing Elevated Medical Treatment, said Monday it's not so cut-and-dried.

"It's de facto legal," he said. "If everybody treats it as legal, it is indeed legal."

Regarding the marijuana that was stolen, he said, "it wasn't theirs," referring to the dispensary. "They don't have that much there."

Anna Laucks answered the door at Elevated Medical Treatment on Monday.

Laucks, the shop's director, said the group is concerned with helping patients.

"We really are straightforward about what we do," she said. "We don't believe we're doing anything wrong. We just want to see our patients' rights protected.

"We work on a patient-to-patient basis," she said. "It never leaves the patient's hands."

Marysville City Councilman Jeff Seibert said if the group is a legitimate operation, its license would likely be granted. If not, it would likely be denied.

"I was a little bit shocked," Seibert said regarding his first reaction to hearing about the operation.

Councilwoman Carmen Rasmussen said she's confident that city laws are adequate to address the issue.

"I have full confidence in our police department to address any situation that would not be legal," she said.

NewsHawk: Ganjarden: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: The Daily Herald
Author: Bill Sheets
Contact: The Daily Herald
Copyright: 2010 The Daily Herald
Website: Smokey Point shop's pot sales surprise officials
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