Seattle Mayor, City Attorney And Councilmembers Back Medical Marijuana Bill

HealthSeattleCrime, Law and JusticeCrimeJustice SystemJeanne Kohl-Welles

In Olympia this week a House Committee held a public hearing on a medical marijuana bill.

It would clarify Washington's medical marijuana laws and strengthen regulations on dispensaries.

It has already passed the Senate and is getting unusual support from city leaders here in Seattle.

Although it’s legal in Washington there is an enforcement gray area that makes patients, growers and dispensers nervous and police unsure about what to do.

Washington State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles sponsored the Bill SB 5073 and says, "Most patients who are very, very ill or who may be dying cannot reasonably or realistically grow their own medical marijuana so they need a safe secure reliable source of their medicine that's fully legal for them to use."

Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata supports the bill and says, "Our law enforcement officers tell us that they need consistent, clear, rational enforcement rules right now they're not in place."

Senate Bill 5073 would change that and give local jurisdictions authority over zoning, regulatory authority over dispensaries.

In a big time show of support the City of Seattle sent a letter to the House Healthcare and Wellness Committee.

It's signed by Mayor Mike McGinn, City attorney Pete Holmes and nine council members including Nick Licata.

Councilman Licata talks about the proposed regulations and says, "Who can dispense medical marijuana, who can grow it, it will set up a registry system so we know who is a legitimate medical marijuana user as a medical patient."

Some supporters also want for profit companies to be allowed to dispense medical marijuana.

Licata says, "We're looking at medical cannabis as a medicine then we should be approximating the pharmacy model and pharmacies can be either for profit or non profit."

Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs has come out strongly against the bill.

Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield says, "Once you open the box with this legislation here folks, the beast is on the street and he's hungry and he's going to feed on our families, he's going to feed in our schools, he's going to feed in our businesses and he's going to feed on our kids and we can do better than what this bill has if we really trying to address the need for people who need medical marijuana."

The bill has to make it to the house floor by April 25th, or it dies in committee.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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