Seattle City Council pondering regulation of medical marijuana

Jul 11, 2011

With roughly 25,000 Seattleites “legally” smoking marijuana for medical reasons, the city council has decided to step in where Gov. Chris Gregoire dared not tread. The city will begin holding hearings on an ordinance for regulating the growing and sale of medical marijuana.

The Washington State Legislature passed a bill this past session permitting certain aspects of using and growing medical pot but then handed the responsibility for regulation to cities, so city councilman Nick Licata has introduced an ordinance to do just that.

The Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture committee, chaired by Licata, is scheduled to take up the issue at a meeting on Wednesday.

In the proposed ordinance, the city states it believes the buying, selling and use of medical marijuana should be “safe and fair” and done in a “manner that will minimize impacts on patients, providers and the health, safety and welfare of the community.”

So, it will discuss making medical marijuana operations get a business license, be inspected by the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health, pay taxes and fees and users be subject to the statewide smoking laws, among other regulations.

Wary of becoming legally culpable in the sale and use of marijuana, which is illegal on the state and federal level, the city has constructed this backdoor:

“The issuance of a business license pursuant to SMC 5.55.030, or the issuance of any other permit or license by the City, shall not be deemed as approval or permission from the City of Seattle to engage in any activity deemed illegal under any applicable law, nor shall it constitute a determination by the City that the manufacture, production, processing, possession, transportation, delivery, dispensing, application, or administration of and use of cannabis engaged in by the licensee or permittee is either legal or illegal under state or federal law.”