|Graphic: Cannabis Defense Coalition|
Medical cannabis providers in Tacoma, Washington, were served with cease and desist notices by the city on Friday, a major escalation in what activists are calling the city’s war on medical marijuana.
Most of Tacoma’s dozen or more medical marijuana providers, already licensed to do business in the there, received certified letters from the a city licensing agent claiming that “dispensing medical marijuana to more than one person is illegal” and demanding the dispensaries be shut down by October 24.
The letter, which is copied to several police officials, claims that failure to comply will result in fines and penalties “up to and including criminal prosecution.”
“The City of Tacoma is clearly misinterpreting state law on medical marijuana,” said Douglas Hiatt, chair of the Sensible Washington cannabis legalization initiative campaign and a longtime medical marijuana attorney.
“The city’s reading of the law is inconsistent with what Washington voters approved in 1998,” Hiatt said. “It’s also inconsistent with how the same law is read by King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes.”
“The city’s claim is absurd and heartless,” agreed Philip Dawdy, vice-chair of Sensible Washington. “If these dispensaries are forced to close, it will harm legitimate patients.”
“It’s frustrating that we’re still fighting these kinds of battles 12 years after Washington voters approved medical marijuana,” Dawdy said.
Law enforcement shut down the North End 420 Club last May in a raid led by a federally funded task force from neighboring Kitsap County.
In July, police raided Tacoma Hemp Company just one month after its founder organized the first-ever Tacoma Hempfest.
Other providers have been “visited” by the police in recent months, and activists said the city’s actions are part of an intimidation campaign to undermine the state’s medical marijuana law, approved by voters back in 1998 and expanded and clarified by the Legislature in 2008.
“If this move by the city stands, other cities across the state may take similar actions,” said Ezra Eickmeyer of Sensible Washington.
“Tacoma’s order to cooperatives is a threat to the medical marijuana community statewide,” Eickmeyer said.
“If this goes unchallenged, Tacoma medical patients will be forced back to the black market to get their medicine, and years of progress will be lost,” Eickmeyer said.
Several of the medical marijuana providers that received cease and desist letters responded with public calls to protest at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Tacoma City Council.
“We shall fill your chambers and spill into the streets,” said Emiel Kandi, who operates COBRA Medical Group. “We shall be heard.”
Activists ask that you please spread the word about the protest at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Eickmeyer invites activists to call Sensible Washington at 206-774-0725 or email [email protected] if you have questions or to let them know you are coming and how many people you are bringing.
“Thank you all for your great work and we’ll see you Tuesday in Tacoma,” Eickmeyer said.
What: Tacoma City Council medical marijuana dispensary ban protest
When: Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: Tacoma City Hall, 747 Market Street, Tacoma, WA