The top prosecutors and officials in both King County, Washington and the city of Seattle are asking the Legislature to quickly untangle the mess left by Governor Christine Gregoire’s gutting of a medical marijuana bill. The bill was supposed to have legalized dispensaries and provided arrest protection for patients, but after Gregoire got through with it, patients were worse off than they started.
In a letter to the four top leaders in the Washington Legislature, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, county executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said the medical marijuana law in its current state leaves them with “few good options” to control and regulate dispensaries, reports Jonathan Martin at the Seattle Times.
“In the absence of new legislation, we at the local level will have to choose between closing down dispensaries and prosecuting the owners and workers, or allowing them to continue to multiply in an unclear regulatory environment,” they wrote in a letter [PDF]
dated Wednesday, May 18.
Gregoire mostly vetoed a landmark bill
that would have legalized dispensaries, which have boomed, especially in the Puget Sound area. The governor’s veto gutted dispensaries’ best legal defense, putting pressure on prosecutors like Satterberg who have tolerated the shops’ existence.
A new bill introduced in the special session of the Legislature would decriminalize dispensaries, but it has not been brought to the Senate floor for a vote after a hearing in the Ways & Means Committee.
In their letter, the four King County leaders said inaction in Olympia will cause big problems in the coming months.
Ironically, on the same day the leaders sent their letter, federal agents raided one of the last remaining dispensaries in Spokane, in the more conservative eastern side of Washington.
Medical Herb Providers, located at 306 North Freya Street in Spokane, was being raided as of 2 p.m. on Wednesday. It is uncertain if any other raids are being executed by the U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby.
Eyewitnesses on the scene reported that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was involved, and that one MHP worker was arrested, according to the Seattle-based Cannabis Defense Coalition