With a six-month interim moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries set to expire on July 28, the Edmonds City Council revisited the future of dispensaries in Edmonds Tuesday night. But in the end, councilmembers seemed to agree with a conclusion by the City Attorney and police chief: As long as the federal government considers the dispensaries illegal, there is no reason to take any action on the moratorium.
The City Council voted Jan. 18 to pass a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries after one such dispensary had applied for a city business license and police discovered another one was operating without a license in Firdale Village. The thinking was to give the Washington State Legislature a chance to address what some describe as inadequate rules governing the possession and sale of the drug under the state’s medical marijuana law.
During an update that did not require Council action, City Attorney Susan Drummond told councilmembers that while the state Legislature this year did pass a law outlining a state licensing process for dispensaries, that process was vetoed by Gov. Chris Gregoire. The governor was concerned that state employees would face federal liability because the federal government considers dispensaries illegal, Drummond said.
Even though the moratorium is expiring, “my recommendation is to do nothing tonight,” said Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan. Asked by Councilmember DJ Wilson whether the police would close down any future marijuana dispensary that attempted to open in Edmonds, Compaan said “that would certainly be the position of this police department given the current state law and federal law.” Around the time the city passed its moratorium, Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe “went on record and is still on record saying that marijuana dispensaries are illegal, he will prosecute and seek conviction so we have that in our back pocket as well,” Compaan added.
“We are not out to prosecute people who are legitimately attempting to operate under state law as far as individuals who may have the medical authorization to use medial marijuana,” Compaan said, “but where it becomes very unclear, is where does one cross the line from being a provider to being a retail store for the sale of marijuana to pretty much anyone who walks in the door. That’s the conundrum and it’s still clear as mud.”
In other action, the council:
– Approved a resolution to continue investigating the possibility of entering into a self-insurance arrangement for City of Edmonds employees.
– Approved a memorandum of understanding to support an interjurisdictional affordable housing program, with future participation to be determined.
– Unanimously approved renewal of a concession agreement for Hula Hut to continue providing food and beverages on City of Edmonds right-of-way located on James Street just east of the ferry holding lanes.
– Agreed with a Planning Board recommendation to change the designation of three properties located at 8609, 8611 and 8615 244th Street Southwest from single-family urban 1 to multi-family medium density.
– Passed a proclamation for Parks and Recreation Month.