Edmonds Council lets moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries expire

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.

  1. To all the naysayers that say city government moves too slow, you need to look no further than the medical marijuana issue. The could have waited another 3 weeks and done nothing at the July 26 council meeting, but they took the bull by the horns and did nothing well in advance of the deadline. Thank you, City Council for not postponing this issue for further discussion.

  2. I would prefer that the police and prosecutors spend not one more cent of city dollars enforcing marijuana laws.

  3. Last night at the city council meeting I heard some comments from Council Member Petso that were so bizarre I had to wait to watch the tape of the meeting to confirm that I really did hear what I thought I heard.

    Ms. Petso was reacting to the following remarks made by me on this site last week:

    “Council members are assigned to be members of a few different committees. One of the committees that Ms. Petso is assigned to is “City-Wide Parking”. I am also a member of that committee, and to the disappointment of other committee members, Ms. Petso has not attended a single monthly meeting this year. That’s 6 meetings that she’s missed. Isn’t it common sense that when you are assigned to a committee you are expected to attend the meetings of that committee?”

    Last night she said “I learned over the weekend that unbeknownst to me I am on the city parking committee. I confirmed that tonight just before the meeting. Next time before posting it on a public blog, please let me know if I have a committee assignment that I’m unaware of.”

    As I said earlier, that statement is truly bizzare and it also represents irresponsible behavior.. Ms. Petso’s membership in the City-Wide Parking committee has been listed on her city council website page since January. Committee assignments are also on a summary sheet provided by the Council President.

  4. If someone on the committee was there to make the committee successful, and If somebody failed to show up, Iheyd try to make sure the missing person was told what happened at the meeting they missed.

    Someone less interested in the success of the committee and more interested in scoring political points might be silent for six months and announce it just before an election.

    That one well-earned point for you, Ron.

  5. Joe:

    The chairperson of the committee informed other committee members that she contacted Ms. Petso more than once to check on her status.

  6. Ron I think you are posting this in the wrong place . What does parking have to do with medical pot just asking?

  7. I am hoping someone can assist my understanding of the issue. Why do we allow people to “smoke” Medical Marijuana when they can get the affects of the MJ by taking THC (the active ingredient in MJ) and avoiding the harmful effects of the smoke on their body.

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