Seattle Moving Toward Rules for Marijuana Shops
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Seattle Moving Toward Rules for Marijuana Shops
Posted by CN Staff on July 12, 2011 at 05:32:46 PT
By Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Source: Seattle Times
Seattle, WA -- Seattle is taking the first steps toward regulating medical-marijuana dispensaries, putting itself on an increasingly lonely pot-friendly island as other Puget Sound cities move toward outright bans.On Wednesday, the Seattle City Council will consider whether to require that medical-marijuana operations get a city business license and comply with city land-use, fire-safety and other rules.
It is a baby step, but if passed, it would be the furthest any city in Washington has gone to bring the booming medical-marijuana industry out of the shadows and into the business mainstream.Seattle officials, including City Attorney Pete Holmes, have debated going further, including clustering medical-marijuana grows in specific land-use zones.But Holmes  as well as attorneys for marijuana operations  say full regulation raises the risk of intervention by federal authorities."This is a tolerant city, and I don't see that changing. But we'd be doing our citizens a disservice if we ignore the federal prohibition" of marijuana, said Holmes.The proposal comes as the state's 13-year-old, voter-approved medical-marijuana law is dramatically changing on July 22, due to Gov. Chris Gregoire's partial veto in May of a proposed landmark bill that would have legalized and regulated dispensaries and grow farms.Her veto made dispensaries, which have boomed throughout the state in the past two years, clearly illegal. But she also authorized new 45-plant "collective garden" for up to 10 patients at a time, clearly establishing for the first time a right for patients to band together in growing collectives.As a result, dispensaries appear to be eager to shift, in business model and in name, into collective garden co-ops.  Marijuana Here To Stay At a packed meeting at the Cannabis Defense Coalition's Sodo headquarters last month, Seattle defense attorney Aaron Pelley told the gathered dispensary owners and marijuana growers how that could happen. The new law suggests that, by rotating several of the 10 patient memberships in each garden, medical-marijuana operations would be able to have large customer bases, Pelley said."I don't see anything in the law that says you can't," he said to the crowd of about 80 people. Pelley warned the crowd that lewd, explicit ads featured in alternative weeklies "make you a target," and no business model was a hedge from federal prosecution.The crowd buzzed as the concept began sinking in. After the meeting, a business attorney also attending was flooded with inquiries.The potential for a forest of new collective garden co-ops, combined with Seattle's go-it-alone approach, means that storefront marijuana distributors are likely here to stay. Currently, 51 dispensaries have Seattle business licenses, with at least a dozen more that are underground, according to city staff.King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg agrees that collective gardens offer a viable, legal model and are "the clearest legal protection" medical-marijuana distributors have had, said Ian Goodhew, Satterberg's lead attorney on the issue.He warned that cooperatives that exploit the law  such as by launching huge grow operations under a single roof  could still draw prosecutors' attention, and that Satterberg has been frustrated by bad actors exploiting the state law to make lots of quick cash."The Legislature has authorized medical-marijuana patients to grow collectively. They should use it and comply with standards in the new statute," said Goodhew. "That way law enforcement and prosecutors stay out of regulating the use of people's medicine."  Cities Forced To Act After Gregoire's veto forced municipalities to act, most regional cities took the opposite approach to Seattle by banning or halting new medical-marijuana operations.In the past month alone, Issaquah, North Bend, Snohomish and Kent passed moratoriums, joining a long list that includes Shoreline, Federal Way, Edmonds and others that cracked down.In Kent, police served search warrants, seizing patient records and marijuana, at four dispensaries less than 24 hours after the City Council passed an emergency moratorium last week. Jay Berneburg, an attorney for several Kent dispensaries, said such "heavy-handed" actions are likely to cluster marijuana business "in civilized cities like Seattle and Tacoma.""Political support is clearly on the side of medical marijuana, not on the drug warriors," he said.Federal prosecutors have taken an increasingly belligerent approach in the 15 states that authorize medical marijuana. A June 29 memo from the U.S. Justice Department reiterated that local U.S. Attorneys have discretion to press cases in their jurisdictions, and that "state laws or local ordinances are not a defense to civil or criminal enforcement of federal law."Although Seattle, if it passes the ordinance, would be an outlier in Washington, it would join dozens of cities nationwide that regulate marijuana dispensers. In California alone, 42 cities have ordinances, while nearly 250 have moratoriums or bans, according to Citizens for Safe Access, a medical-marijuana advocacy group."Many localities have [passed ordinances] where state laws don't regulate the activity," said Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the group. "It's been left to municipalities to pick up the slack."Seattle, nonetheless, is treading lightly with the new proposed ordinance. City Councilmember Sally Clark said the city sought "to keep ourselves clean from federal intervention."She said that requiring medical-marijuana dispensaries or cooperatives to follow city codes  complying with fire or construction rules  is a matter of safety."I don't think city workers who are checking off electrical use permits or checking on change of use permits are at risk" of federal prosecution," she said.The specter of public employees facing federal prosecution for enforcing medical-marijuana regulations was raised by Gregoire in her veto. The U.S. Attorneys in Seattle and Spokane, in a letter sent just before the veto, said state workers were not immune, criminally or civilly.But there is no record of state medical-marijuana regulators facing federal prosecution, even in states with fully licensed dispensaries and grow farms. Constitutional scholars and political analysts widely describe it as extremely improbable.  More Regulation Ahead? Over the next several months, Seattle will consider further regulation, including possible zoning restrictions that could channel collective gardens  particularly larger-scale, multigarden operations  into commercial or industrial zones, Clark said. Staff was researching current zoning rules for gardens, farms and pharmacies to see where medical-marijuana operations would fit.Oscar Velasco-Schmitz, founder of the Dockside Co-op, a medical-marijuana dispensary in Fremont, said he welcomed Seattle's proposal."I think the ordinance is a great first step," he said. "It acknowledges that the citizens of Seattle have a need for medical cannabis, and are looking for a safe way" to get it.But Douglas Hiatt, a longtime marijuana defense attorney, said he would sue Seattle if it enacted the ordinance because it would force cooperatives to acknowledge they were selling a drug that remains illegal under federal law."You cannot regulate an illegal substance," said Hiatt. "It would be a total admission of guilt and Exhibit 1 in a federal [criminal] case."Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times Staff ReporterPublished: July 11, 2011Copyright: 2011 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana  Archives 
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Comment #12 posted by Hope on July 13, 2011 at 10:48:31 PT
Medical Cannabis
Seems like an ad for such would at least have a lab coat on the representative person for the product.
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on July 13, 2011 at 10:40:28 PT
"Lewd and explicit"
might be a good way to sell penicillin, I guess, but not cannabis.
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on July 13, 2011 at 10:38:25 PT
Thank you for explaining that to me. I really didn't imagine that providers were being that foolish.*sigh*
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Comment #9 posted by afterburner on July 13, 2011 at 09:26:49 PT
dongenero #6 - recent example of sex sells beer
Women's Rights Petition: Boycott Old Milwaukee and their recent Ad Campaign |
Tell Old Milwaukee and Sleemans Brewing Company that their recent ad campaign is sexist, offensive and degrading. Not only is this offensive to women and girls but is also socially irresponsible to the men and young boys who see these ads. These billboards contribute to the issue of violence against women. These ads are implying that women can be bought and sold, that women and girls are objects. We demand an apology and we want a retraction of all the ads.Let Old Milwaukee know that there is nothing funny about these ads. }Local Health Organizations Justifiably Concerned About "Free Girl With Every Can" Beer Billboards
[includes video]Sexist Bar Ad In Peterborough That Crosses The Line.
"CHEAP JUGS $10.75", this post is neither an endorsement for the products shown, nor commercial advertising. The billboard & poster illustrated in the above links contain sexually suggestive subject matter which may offend some viewers. Do not click the links if you are easily offended. Or click the links if you wish to protest such blatant and degrading advertising. 
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on July 13, 2011 at 09:09:44 PT
We never understood why they did that. It must have been to make more money. Other people we knew stopped buying the magazine too.
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Comment #7 posted by afterburner on July 13, 2011 at 08:52:59 PT
"Back in the early days of High Times we subscribed but when it got that weird we weren't interested anymore."Same here!
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Comment #6 posted by dongenero on July 13, 2011 at 08:32:36 PT
lewd and explicit ads
While I certainly profess an appreciation of both "weed" and "hot chicks", sex-selling seems very inappropriate for the medical marijuana market and makes any advertising or publishing content an increased target for moralists. However, I have to say with regard to recreational use, selling through sex has always been quite prevalent in alcohol advertising and many other products and services. Sometimes tastefully and enticing, sometimes not so much.Taking the high road of more refined taste will generally serve best, although tasteless advertising may appeal to certain markets at the most base level. One thing I would bet on is that a good percentage of those that would attack on such grounds likely have a hard drive filled with hard core porn, and a percentage even illegally so. Such hypocrisy always seems to be the case with the most vociferous detractors of anything.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on July 13, 2011 at 07:14:33 PT
Thank you. Back in the early days of High Times we subscribed but when it got that weird we weren't interested anymore.
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Comment #4 posted by CropReport on July 13, 2011 at 05:20:36 PT
Yes, Lewd and Explicit :)
The style of posing naked or thong-clad girls with pipes and other gear a la High Times flies in the face of any argument of legitimate use. There was a lot of this early on in Colorado, but the market seemed to turn against the message of "hot chicks and weed".I think with ~1/2 of users turning out to be women that advertisers would get smart and stop the soft-porn push.Just my two cents.
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on July 12, 2011 at 10:06:57 PT
"lewd, explicit ads"?
What? What in the world is going on up there?"Lewd, and explicit ads" for medical cannabis? What is that? Why would, and how would, anyone do that? Why would anyone do something like that and undermine everything anyone is trying to do to get cannabis out in the daylight, where it should be?
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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on July 12, 2011 at 08:54:45 PT
Sue 'M
It is the American way of democracy!""This is a tolerant city, and I don't see that changing. But we'd be doing our citizens a disservice if we ignore the federal prohibition" of marijuana, said Holmes."? What?Should be: We'd be doing our citizens a disservice if we ignore the medicinal properties of marijuana and deny our citizens their medicine!
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on July 12, 2011 at 08:50:08 PT
ABC News: Marijuana Advocates Sue Feds 
Marijuana Advocates Sue Feds After DEA Rejects Weed as MedicineJuly 12, 2011URL:
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