Washington Town To Ban Safe Access to Medical Cannabis


Steve Hunter/Kent Reporter
A woman opposes the Kent City Council’s proposed ban on medical marijuana dispensaries and collective gardens prior to a May 14 Council committee meeting. The full council votes June 5 on the ban, which is expected to pass.

By Anthony Martinelli
Sensible Washington

“We’re getting dozens and dozens of phone calls and emails and most are from medical marijuana patients…. The number in favor [of the ban]I can count on one finger.”
This is a quote from Kent City Council President Dennis Higgins, in an interview with the Kent Reporter,  in regards to the council’s plan to ban all medical cannabis safe access points within the city. 
The vote is scheduled for Tuesday, June 5, and the ban is seen as a sure thing: The vote is planned to fall at 4-3, according to Higgins in the same interview. 

Anthony Martinelli
Anthony Martinelli of marijuana legalization group Sensible Washington wrote this piece for Toke of the Town

In a perfect world, or even just a common sense world, one if not all of these four would realize that what they’re planning to do is unethical, illegal and has no reasonable explanation.
The reasons to vote against this ban are clear:
• This ban would be blatantly ignoring the will of our state’s voters
• A ban would only decrease public safety by forcing these patients into the black-market, which often benefits local criminals and criminal organizations
• Largely because of this, studies have shown lower crime rates near medical cannabis collectives
• A ban would put local employees and business owners out of work, regardless if they are legitimately following state law
• A ban would lack compassion by denying safe and local access to a medicine that is proven effective for a variety of debilitating ailments
Despite these reasons, and despite the fact that around 80 percent of Americans support legalized medical cannabis, cities like Kent have continuously pushed back against a growing call for safe access: pushing forward moratoriums, ridiculously restrictive ordinances, etc.
A few have attempted a full ban on safe access. 
The implications of Kent — the seventh largest city in the state — passing an outright ban on safe access within their city, are huge, and we must work to combat the ban. 

Seattle Weekly
State Rep. Roger Goodman, a candidate for Congress, has made public his opposition to the ban on safe access in Kent

This goes for every city. The movement must be proactive in the present, and whether you’re a resident of Kent or not (I am not), this is an issue we must clearly put our efforts towards. If Kent were to pass this ban, and get away with it (no legal challenge or political repercussion), you can be assured it will have a negative effect on other cities throughout the state whose politicians may be considering a ban, but not yet moving forward with it.
As of right now, one of the most obvious and simplest actions you can take before the vote on June 5 is to email and call those who plan to vote for this ban, pointing out clearly and respectfully why such a ban is a move backwards.
Those planning to vote for this ban are Councilman Bill Boyce, Councilwoman Dana Ralph, Councilwoman Deborah Ranniger, and Councilman Les Thomas. The entire council can be reached at councilmembers@kentwa.gov
Sensible Washington, State Rep. Roger Goodman and State Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson have made public their opposition to the ban, sponsoring a letter to the council which urges them to vote against a ban on safe access points.

Washington State Legislature
State Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson has joined Rep. Roger Goodman in opposing the ban

Beyond this, there’s a rally planned at Kent City Hall at 6 p.m., before the 7 p.m. meeting, where the community is planning to take a clear stand in support of safe access.
Despite all of this, as we in the cannabis movement so painfully know, the council may very well ignore our call and continue forward with their plan to pass this ban. In this instance, there’s two approaches that we can take, and as a community, we take them both.
First, we file an injunction, we fight a court battle, and given that what they’re doing isn’t legal, we overturn the ruling. Attorney and Chair of Sensible Washington Douglas Hiatt has already presented this to the committee that passed this ban 2-1, which sent it to the full council: “Work with us, don’t force us to sue you. Don’t make me go file for an injunction. Show some compassion. What you’re trying to do is wrong.”
As reported in the Kent Reporter, paperwork is already filed, and an injunction is planned on June 6, if the ban passes as expected on June 5.
We can hope that the courts will rule in our favor, and the legal reality points to the fact that they will. The precedent that would be set from a victory here would be lasting, as well as far-reaching.
But this doesn’t excuse those who voted for the ban.
If it passes, as a community we must take notice. We must refuse to forget, and we must do what we can with our time and finances to take out of office those who would so clearly ignore the law and their constituents.
This is true with any other similar attempt throughout the state and nation.
In many instances, this is happening — politicians who irrationally oppose marijuana are being removed from office by voters (as in Texas, and as in Oregon).
The more we fight for candidates who support cannabis law reform, and against those who don’t, the more those running for office will stand with us.
Or, at the very least, fear the political repercussions of standing against us.