Seattle May License Medical Marijuana Dispensaries


Photo: Steve Elliott

​Safe access is in danger for medical marijuana patients in Seattle and across the state of Washington since Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed most of a bill that would have legalized dispensaries in the state. But now, the Seattle City Council is attempting to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries in the state’s largest city.

After Gov. Gregoire’s veto — which she claimed was due to her concern that state workers would be arrested and federally prosecuted for administering the dispensary program, although that’s never happened in any medical marijuana state — patients across Washington are worried.

SHRM Washington State Council
Seattle City Council member Nick Licata will introduce the ordinance on Wednesday.

​On Wednesday, July 13 at 2 p.m., the Seattle City Council’s Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee will consider an ordinance from Councilman Nick Licata establishing rules for marijuana dispensaries, reports Chris Grygiel at the Seattle P.I. The shops would be required to get a business license, pay taxes and fees, and meet city land-use codes.
The dispensaries would also be subject to the city’s “Chronic Nuisance Property Law” (yeah, I know, I said “chronic”), which means they could face fines or possible closure if there are repeated complaints about activity at the establishments.
In a bit of legal boilerplate language obviously of the cover-your-ass variety, the proposed ordinance also states:
“The issuance of a business license pursuant… 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.”
City Council members have been saying for weeks that they would need to address the medical marijuana dispensary question after Gov. Gregoire’s hen-hearted failure of leadership. The bill passed in the Legislature was designed to clarify regulations on medical marijuana dispensaries and to provide a licensing system and patient registry to help protect qualifying patients, doctors, and providers from criminal liability.
Gregoire vetoed provisions of the bill that would have licensed and regulated dispensaries. She also vetoed the patient registry portion of the bill, which would have put the state Department of Health in charge of the registry.
Mayor Mike McGinn, Executive Dow Constantine, City Attorney Pete Holmes and Prosecutor Dan Satterberg have previously said that Gregoire’s veto of the medical marijuana dispensary bill “leaves local governments with no clear path forward as we struggle to balance three priorities: public safety; the need of qualified patients to have safe access to medical marijuana; and law enforcement’s need for clarity.”