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News (Media Awareness Project) - US WA: Ordinance Faces Test As Marijuana Collective Applies
Title:US WA: Ordinance Faces Test As Marijuana Collective Applies
Published On:2012-01-24
Source:Issaquah Press (WA)
Fetched On:2012-01-26 06:00:59

In the initial test for a landmark medical marijuana ordinance enacted
last month, a patient-run collective at the center of discussions
about changes to city rules applied for licenses to operate.

The application from the nonprofit medical marijuana operation,
GreenLink Collective, came after planners, officials and residents
crafted a medical marijuana ordinance designed to balance public
safety concerns and patients' access to the drug.

GreenLink organizers applied to occupy units E, F and G in a
commercial building at 160 N.W. Gilman Blvd. The organization does not
intend to grow marijuana in the space. GreenLink founders Jake and
Lydia George applied for the license on behalf of the organization
Dec. 19, the day the ordinance took effect.

The facility is proposed as a place to process and deliver medical
marijuana to qualified patients, offer classes and information, and
sell supplies for people to produce and consume marijuana under the
framework of state law.

Organizers said medical marijuana deliveries should not be visible
from public spaces, in order to meet city code.

The code requires a 1,000-foot buffer between a collective garden and
a community center, school or another collective garden. The rules set
a 500-foot buffer between a collective garden and park, preschool or
daycare center. The ordinance also established a limit of a single
collective garden per site.

In addition, applicants for a collective garden safety license through
the city must undergo a background check by the Issaquah Police
Department. The city can deny applications to people convicted of a
felony drug law violation in the past 10 years.

If the city approves the application, GreenLink operators must install
a security system and cameras onsite.

The collective opened in late 2010 at a former daycare center near
Issaquah Valley Elementary School in a neighborhood not zoned for
commercial operations. Though advocates said nonprofit status afforded
the medical marijuana operation some flexibility, officials ruled
against GreenLink's initial application for a city business license.

The decision launched a monthslong process to set rules for medical
marijuana operations in Issaquah.

In June, council members imposed a moratorium on collective gardens as
local and state officials scrambled to ease patient access to medical
marijuana. Changes in state law for medical marijuana also shifted
early last year. Still, city officials upheld the moratorium in July
to allow planners additional time to formulate rules for medical
marijuana operations.

Patients using GreenLink for access to medical marijuana offered
emotional testimony throughout the process. The city received few
complaints about the proposed ordinance.

Though marijuana remains illegal under federal law, enforcing
state-level medical marijuana laws is left to local and state law
enforcement officers, despite the obvious conflict between state and
federal regulations.

Washington Initiative 692, passed in 1998, allows people suffering
from certain medical conditions to possess a 60-day supply of
marijuana. Under state law, physicians can recommend -- but not
prescribe -- the drug for patients.

Washington law allows up to 10 qualifying patients to join together
and form a collective garden of up to 45 plants, so long as the
marijuana is not visible from public spaces.

The voter-approved state law permits medical uses for patients
suffering from debilitating conditions, such as AIDS and cancer.
Washington and 15 other states -- plus Washington, D.C. -- allow
health care providers to authorize medical marijuana as a treatment.
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